Steampunk is a sub-genre under the main genre of science fiction. It commonly features in works of fiction and films. It has emerged as a cult of aesthetics as well in which a group of artists, musicians, designers, and fashion designers have come under its influence. In order to fully understand what is steampunk one must explore the history of this sub-genre.
The word steampunk is believed to have been used for the first time by author K. W. Jeter. In his letter to ‘Locus’ magazine, Keter referred to some fictional works including his own, as being part of a separate genre called steampunk. Steampunk recreates the 19th-century world of the industrial revolution in England and wild western America. It also sometimes creates an alternate historical world where historical characters and chronology is adhered to while creating an alternate fantastic space.
What is steampunk: cultural history?
Though the origin of the word steampunk is traced to the 1980s, several works of fiction from the earlier 20th century are counted among precursors of the genre. The 1927 film “Metropolis” by Fritz Lang is widely recognized as the single most important influence in the development of this genre. Other works of art recognized as pioneers of this sub-genre are the films “Titus Alone” (1959) by Mervyn Peake and “Brazil” (1985) by Terry Gilliam.
In fine art, the paintings of Remedios Varo use elements of Victorian fashion, fantasy, and techno fantastic imagery. The television series named The Wild Wild West which ran from 1965 to 1969 and influenced the 1999 film of the same name is an important precursor as well. Know more and share your views by participating in International Essay Competition.
Steampunk: cultural influence
Steampunk is an aesthetic which has emerged is a style seen in fashion, design, art, etc. In fashion, steampunk is the new Gothic. Extensive use of leather, brass and other metal accessories, use of military decoration elements are some of the commonly seen features of steampunk fashion. Uses of accessories like corsets, waistcoats, parasols, etc. are also common in steampunk fashion. Steampunk fashion draws heavily on Victorian fashion and style elements. Colors used are usually dark, giving an overall Gothic feel to it.
A wide range of steampunk-influenced gadgets and showpieces are also popular among those who favor this aesthetic. A group of designers design and manufacture steampunk influenced articles to cater to this audience.
What is a steampunk gadget?
Steampunk gadgets are those that are modeled on the steampunk aesthetic. These gadgets are sometimes functional instruments and at times are merely based on steampunk theme in their external appearance. Designed out of metals like iron, brass, copper, steel, these designs are meticulous little pieces used for decoration or for everyday usage. Steampunk gadgets are commonly available on online stores. Original steampunk gadgets can be expensive. Modifications in plastic or wood using metal spray paint are usually cheaper. Steampunk enthusiasts also commission for ordinary gadgets to be modified into resembling the steampunk aesthetic. Computer keyboards, musical instruments, eyewear are often modified externally to give them a steampunk feel.
Steampunk gadgets in films
Steampunk finds most expression in the world of film and television. The fantasy world envisioned in steampunk films show is a lot of iron and steel machinery huffing puffing and moving at great speed, performing astonishing activities. In the 1999 film ‘Wild wild west’ the villain Dr. Loveless is seen to have designed an entire city which runs on steam. He himself moves on a giant spider which is self-sufficient destruction machine. Some of the machinery designed by Dr. Loveless include bulletproof chain mail, spring-loaded notebooks, flying machines, steam tanks, super fast steam engines, a steam-powered wheelchair, etc.
Owing partly to the popularity of steampunk movies and partly to the rising interest in steampunk as an aesthetic, steampunk and best technology gadgets have become hugely popular among a section of youngsters. Its influence on the fashion industry is also noticeable. Important fashion brand like Prada, Versa, Chanel are introducing steampunk fashion lines to cater to these audiences. A large number of mechanical designers and artists have also started working in steampunk installations and modifications.
Purchasing steampunk gadgets
These gadgets are usually designed and manufactured by individual designers in their personal studios. Often they work out of their own garages and fabricate such forms of art and machinery from scrap material obtained at mechanics’ yards.
Such gadgets are also widely available on online stores. Several e-commerce sites willing to cash in on the rising interest on steampunk have started commissioning articles modeled on the steampunk aesthetic. Ordinary articles like pen drives, computer keyboards, eyewear, are being modified to suit the steampunk genre. While some of these objects are hugely expensive, cheaper alternatives are also being made available. Original articles are fashioned out of brass, iron, copper or steel. The cheaper varieties on the other hand simply use metallic paint on plastic or fiber.
Steampunk designs and gadgets
Popular such gadgets include watches, eyewear, furniture, electronic gadgets, accessories, jewelry, and more. Original creations are also available. While most of these original pieces are ornamental, some functional machinery, are also designed. However, most such devices are not practical but are prepared for niche clients. Also, these are mostly custom-made and not meant for bulk production.
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