Last login: Thursday, July 30, 2009
Actually early on in promoting Chrononaut (my club) used the phrase “the amazing duogramaphonium.” The reality is that I need something more compact and cost effective, i.e. a laptop. As to the music, unlike punk or goth there is no one genre of music that is steampunk. Instead there is an evolving consensus about music from various genres that steampunks like. Some of this music comes from bands that call themselves steampunk but most of it does not.
Rock and roll and related music has choked on its own clichés so badly that there’s now a Lego version of the Rock Band video game. There are a growing number of musicians escaping this trap by combining contemporary music with pre-rock influences and anachronistic instrumentation. This has spawned such genres as dark/punk cabaret, alternative folk/Americana, Celtic punk, Gypsy punk, Middle Eastern dance fusion, Chap hop, blues hip-hop collaborations, neo-classical, circus punk and more. My job as a DJ is to find it, put it into play lists, and keep it coming in a flow from ambient to various tempos of danceable throughout the evening. It’s a lot of work but the really fun part is that there are only about five steampunk DJs in the country so I’m really free to find my own interpretation and be a trendsetter.
July 30, 2009 at 9:43 p.m.
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That was excellent introduction to the San Diego steampunk community. Comic-Con has been hugely important to the development of the community. I first became aware of steampunk as more than a genre of science-fiction at a little after party my friend Alexander threw Saturday night of Comic-Con 2007. That was the first steampunk event in San Diego. There were only about ten people dressed in steampunk style. Now I’m the organizer and DJ of the steampunk club mentioned, and my wife owns the Yahoo group linked to in the article.
Because Comic-Con and the entertainment industry, Southern California has some of the best steampunk costuming talent anywhere, but the movement as a whole is broader than that. Steampunk began as literature. The word was first used by K. W. Jeter, and James Blaylock in Locus magazine in May 1987 to refer to their own and Tim Powers’ Victorian-ish sci-fi stories. It has since been adopted to refer to similar works by other authors. More often than not steampunk fiction is set not in the past but in an alternate present or sometimes even the future. What is always true is that the culture and aesthetic of the stories feels like something Victorian or early twentieth century even though the technology sometimes involves space travel or computers in some form.
Starting about four or five years ago, steampunk began inspiring a variety of cultural forms such as fine art, music, street style, aspects of the Maker movement, and even a form of activism based around questioning why we use the technology we do and who controls and produces that technology. The Steampunk movement is a mash-up of the past and present that reflects the sense that so many of us have that our culture has reached a kind of dead end. Our standard of living, economy and ecology cannot be based on producing cheap disposable non-repairable things. Nor can it continue to be based around ideas thrust at us by a media dedicating to selling these same ideas of disposability.
Steampunk is not really about the past so much as reimagining the present and the future. This reimagining is based on visions of the future as it was imagined in the past. Steampunk is about a time that never happened because we took a wrong turn in our history. It’s about a more personal, permanent and romantic view of technology and culture, one that we are still longing to build.
For a growing list of links to steampunk culture in San Diego please see sandiegosteampunk.org
July 29, 2009 at 9:49 p.m.
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