Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Steampunk: the backlash begins


250px-Steamtop.jpg Steampunk, a subculture devoted to recreating an overly ornate, technologically oriented version of the Victorian era, has been covered of late in mainstream media like the New York Times. When the mainstream media starts to take notice of a subgroup, that’s about when it’s on its way out, and Randy Nakamura’s article in Design Observer essentially skewers the steampunk “movement” as nothing but wishful thinking for a non-existent past….with knobs and brass.

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

10 Responses to “ Steampunk: the backlash begins ”

cam c. says:

Damn, I just finished an enourmous brass and polished mahogany holder for my iPhone, too…

jabberwocky says:

K, but who really reads the New York Times. After all there is not an ornate brass version of the paper?

art donovan says:

Hi, Freyburg, Yeah.

“When the mass media takes notice it’s over.”….
Gosh, Freyburg. I have heard that “cooler than thou” argument ever since I first heard an unknown guy named Bobby Zimmerman strumming anonomously in a NYC Greenwich Village basement bar years ago. Yeah. I was there.

Try to get over the snark and cynicism.

Steampunk is bona fide movement.

That’s a fact. I should know.

I was there.

Best Regards, Art

Warren says:

Hey, I never said I had anything against steampunk (i actually think it’s kind of cool), just that once a subculture gets big enough to be noticed by huge media organizations like the NYT, that’s generally a sign either of a wider cultural acceptance (which I’d argue likely won’t happen with steampunk, given its somewhat arch and esoteric nature) or that the movement has more or less crested (again, in the eyes of the mainstream) and will likely remain the province of hardcore fans. What, if anything, this has to do with you being lucky enough to see Bob Dylan plying his musical trade back in the day is another story entirely.

cam c. says:

Awesome! This has all the makings of an argument not seen on this blog since some lurking female reader complained that your Sex and the City rant was unfounded. (The sort of sad thing is that “Sex and the City” has more cultural relevance than Steampunk ever will, though…)

Mel says:

Nerdy blogger vs Out-of-date/name-dropping hipster


art donovan says:

Sorry, Mel. No fight here.

Warren & I are engaging in an intelligent and mature exhange of ideas.

You ‘whipper-snapper’s best stay in your rooms, now.

Jonny Vancouver says:

OOOOOOO….and Mel get’s served……YOU GOT SERVED BEEYOTCH!!!!!!!

cam c. says:

Art, in all seriousness (if you’re still reading this thread), as an armchair observer of furniture & lighting design (getting back into that field in a creative capacity is actually part of my “retirement” plan), I’m vaguely familiar with some of your previous work; are you only doing Steampunk-themed pieces now or is it just one line of work you’re pursuing? And in terms of the Steampunk pieces, what were/are your main influences?

To frame my questions I’m mainly just curious why you took (what appears to an uniformed outsider) what seems to be a bit of a left turn into the Steampunk world…

art says:

Hello, Cam C.

It certainly was a left turn in terms of design.

The most attractive part of creating Steampunk design was the pure freedom that it allowed. Concerns for what’s “in and out” of style and the de riguer trends in architecture and interior design were tossed out the window.

I still work in my standard styles though. Be Well! Art

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