Sunday, June 12, 2011
Steampunk Chronicle Premiere at Friends of Industry
Last night I took in a steampunk event at the Gustave Campini's Friends of Industry art space in downtown Duluth. The event included steampunk art, costumes and a the world premiere of Chronicle, a multi-media show based on a comic book being produced by Eric Horn and friends. From what I've been told Steampunk is a huge new passion, not unlike the Trekkie movement that resulted in Star Trek conventions around the country.
Steampunk is a subset of science fiction, except these futurists are from the past. Think of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Put yourself in 1880 and imagine what the future would look like, what space ships of tomorrow might look like from the vantage point of pre-flight and what futuristic weapons and uniforms might consist of.
If you ever saw Will Vinton's claymation production The Adventures of Mark Twain, you will recall seeing a steampunk-style flying contraption that carried the story, along with its characters. Mark Twain had a fascination with the future, and was intensely curious about the capabilities of science. As a result he developed a close friendship with Nikola Tesla and spent a lot of time in that brilliant man's lab.
Some people credit cyberpunk writers William Gibson and Bruce Sterling with the re-birth of interest in steampunk. The two wrote The Difference Engine, a book that brought their futurist sensibilities to Victorian England.
Steampunk artisans take ordinary objects and make extraordinary masks, gear and goggles using materials that were likely to be found 130 years ago, hence the preponderance of leather, brass, wood and iron. Events like Campini's last night provide the occasion for steampunk fans to get decked out and show their stuff.
As a starting point to learn more about Steampunk, visit Wikipedia.
Below: The Victorian era projection screen.