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Steampunk: An Overview

Posted August 26, 2009 to photo album "Steampunk: An Overview"

In anticipation of the release of Shane Acker’s steampunk-influenced animation 9, Jeff Vandermeer presents a primer on the fantasy subgenre.

Slide 1: An Introduction
Slide 2: Jules Verne
Slide 3: The American "Edisonade"
Slide 4: The Rise of Modern Steampunk
Slide 5: The Role of
Slide 6: The Aesthetic Influence on Movies
Slide 7: The Role of DIY Fashion
Slide 8: Steampunk Art
Slide 9: Reimagining Technology Through the Maker Movement
Slide 10: The Future of Steampunk
Slide 8: Steampunk Art

Slide 8: Steampunk Art

Whereas fashion can serve a functional and artistic purpose, other art connected to the Steampunk subculture exists to be purely decorative and playful. For example, The Insect Lab’s Mike Libby makes clockwork insects, which he feels have a strong “Steampunk aesthetic.” Libby’s fascinating intersections between the organic and the mechanical use clockwork bits and pieces as add-on or replacement parts for insects. The results almost seem like delicate, impractical machines.

As Libby says about his work, “Robot-like insects and insect-like robots are the stuff of science fiction and science fact. In science fiction, insects are frequently featured as robotic critters. Either scurrying across the galaxy as invading aliens or as robo-bug counterparts to a futuristic human race. From Cronos to The Golden Compass, the insect/robot archetype has been used, re-used, and re-imagined countless times. In reality, engineers look to insect movement, wing design and other characteristics for inspiration of new technology....Manmade technology is finding that the most maneuverable and efficient design features really does come from nature. Ironically and often, this technology closely resembles the musings of science fiction. Insect Lab celebrates these correspondences and contradictions. The work does not intend to function, but playfully and slyly insists that it possibly could.”

Libby’s creations are one step away from perhaps the single most important element of the Steampunk subculture today: the Steampunk Maker movement.