Welcome to Brass Hacking 101. My name is Mr.Combs and I'll be your instructor (I hope). I have been making Steampunk Art since I stumbled across a magazine article a few years ago that highlighted some of the retrofuturistic computer mods of Jake Von Slatt and the late Richard "Doc" Nagy (aka Datamancer).
These keyboards, monitors, CPUs, and even the mice were glorious brass and wood fantasies that were both a comment on the design esthetic of computers and a statement about the pervasiveness of technology--not so much that it had to be vilified but that it could be fun and celebrate science, craftsmanship, and art in a new way. Even if the pace of life was brutal, your tools could still be beautiful.
I announced to my family that I had come across this great new style--Steampunk. My daughter, with the withering disdain that only teenagers can voice said, "Dad, Steampunk is so over."
In a way she was right. The literary genre, which had been named in 1987 by writer K.W. Jeter, was in a bit of a rut. But the visual and musical aspects of Steampunk were just beginning to gain traction. In turn that would help to spark a literary rebirth that continues today.
As a long-time fan of Victoriana, it has been great to see Steampunk art embraced by so many over the past few years. A lot of folks will tell you, "Steampunk found me,"and I think that's one of the great things about the movement. People wh0 have long delighted in the Victorian aesthetic but recognize the great contradictions of that era--the vibrant cultural, artistic and technological explosion mixed with raw imperialism, colonialism and manifest destiny--saw Steampunk as a mix of both the good and the bad and said, "I'm home."
Steampunk's neo-Victorian aesthetic is reflective of that era, both Edisonian and Dickensian at the same time. The new technology and the great flowering of the middle class which tore down some of the class structure and afforded opportunity was accompanied by rampant empire-building and new levels of poverty and industrial blight. That era has a lot to tell us about science and art, and where they meet.
This is where Victorian art and industry get a telegram from the future--"YOU ARE NEEDED IN TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY--STOP--PROCEED POSTHASTE"
Keyboard by the late Datamancer. Photo--Biker Jun
Wherein we discuss the importance of approaching art with Real Intent.
©Copyright 2013 Jonathan Combs