Is steampunk about Victorian fashion and uber cool mechanical gadgets or is it also about something more? This is a question I have been struggling with for sometime, I am a goth from the late 80’s and I associate that subculture with an aesthetic sense of beauty that embraces the macabre with values alienation and hedonism within a frame work of self reflection. Since becoming more involved with the steampunk subculture the question of philosophy has been gnawing at my mind. …
Most popular media on Steampunk tends to focus on the appearance and not the beliefs,the Board Magazine has one such hollow description. The current wikipedia page covers the topic in one sentence: “ Some have proposed a steampunk philosophy, sometimes with punk-inspired anti-establishment sentiments, and typically bolstered by optimism about human potential ” with a reference to Andrew Swerlick's Technology Gets Steampunk'd. Andrew's article goes on to explain that “Steampunk is the assertion of the individual, the rejection of the mass-produced for the uniquely crafted — the refusal to be labeled as a faceless consumer. ”
Although I agree with Andrew’s anti consumerism I believe the movement also has other philosophical underpinning in a DYI culture that empowers the individual. In the New York Times Article, Steampunk Moves Between 2 Worlds, the author picks up on the “make-it-yourself ethos of punk” which I see as integral to steampunk. I have yet to meet a steampunk that does not hack or make something original. Often fashion and technology are customized to a point at which it is barely recognizable as the original object it once was. These actions point to a strong sense of self at the core of steampunk. I would love to hear others thoughts on what they thing steampunk philosophy is or is not.
The above image was added for three reasons 1) all posts should have images, as a visual learner I often remember what I wrote by the image not the title. 2) the image is of a ocular of eye piece that changes the way you see things, I hope this post gives you least a moment of pause on the meaning of steampunk 3) the image is under a copyright license that allows others to remix and reuse the art, which is see as part of the philosophy of steampunk.
Photo: Steampunk Ocular By topgold Bernard Goldbach under Creative Commons BY License