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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 9: Reimagining Technology Through the Maker Movement

Slide 9: Reimagining Technology Through the Maker Movement

The Steampunk Maker movement is a relatively new trend within the subculture, and perhaps the most powerful, featuring as it does the creation of functional machines, the repurposing of modern technology, and an emphasis on green technology as part of an overall progressive movement toward a sustainable vision of human life. Creators like Jake Von Slatt of the Steampunk Workshop (pictured here with a working Wimshurst machine) are tinkers who came to Steampunk in the last few years, finding in its ethos a chance to be part of something larger that partakes of both history and the future.

As Von Slatt says, “Steampunk creations are by their nature DIY projects, thus the tools and techniques with roots in the 19th Century are often more appropriate for the individual crafts-persons or small collective who does not have the resources to make huge capital investments in equipment and facilities. From a DIY technology perspective, Steampunk is a romanticized cousin to the Maker movement—and the Maker movement is the hardware-based offspring of the hugely successful and important Open Source software revolution.”

Publications like Steampunk Magazine (Seattle) support these efforts by taking the “punk” part of Steampunk and interpreting the steam element as, for example, helping create a future where anyone can fix their own car or build their own (steampunk) bicycle. Thus, in a sense, Steampunk Makers are re-inventors who occupy a practical, forward-thinking space between the pessimistic Verne and the falsely optimistic Edisonades.