Tag Archives: week 4

Why Steampunk – a personal look

I am going a bit different direction today; I updated my site, submitted it for publication on another site, and am evaluating why I am doing this and why I chose my topic. If you have read my updated about section some of this may be more clear if I miss a connection. My mother, my life, my husband, and my stress were the major proponents in me beginning this.

Not taken by me, but of me, this was in a tiny town outside Saltillo, MX. We visited here, then the next day went to the factories other countries had in the area and saw the good and bad of them on economy and education. They had a cart with a barrel to get watter from a few miles away in the desert because the well was dry. Seams Steampunk technology could work some places even now.
Not taken by me, but of me, this was in a tiny town outside Saltillo, MX. We visited here, then the next day went to the factories other countries had in the area and saw the good and bad of them on economy and education. They had a cart with a barrel to get water from a few miles away in the desert because the well was dry. Seems Steampunk technology could work some places even now.

1.    Technology. I have learned to work a blog, as mom tried to get me to teach her for several years. I am also learning new programs and styles. Research, of historical and potential technologies is obviously a major part of this and many  of the pieces include significant research that eventually leads to me writing an essay. Technology is fascinating to me in most forms, modern, antique, old, future, potential, fictional, and speculative. I like cutting edge, out of date, practical, and simply aesthetic – it all has appeal. I restore motorcycles and do artistic ventures of a wide variety of forms, many involving technology from various ages.

2.    Insomnia. Lack of sleep is high on my list of problems with having a job, working at home, and doing a project every day but it is nice to have an accomplishment at the end of the day. Insomnia has, over the years, helped my creativity, and hindered it. I have many great ideas but often lack time, awareness, tools, place, or health to work on them or finish them. Somehow Steampunk is one of the things associated with sleeplessness for me – books and video games maybe, imagery maybe, research projects possibly, I’m not sure.

Insomnia has always been part of my art. This was around 3 or 4 am in an empty University Campus on a very foggy morning. I often think of these buildings working on my Steampunk and Victorian research.
Insomnia has always been part of my art. This was around 3 or 4 am in an empty University Campus on a very foggy morning. I often think of these buildings working on my Steampunk and Victorian research.

3.    Relationship. My husband is both supportive and suggests sleep instead, but he has been a huge help and I think this will prove good for us. He also frequently has ideas on how to turn something into a smaller size or staged project to meet my deadline. One suggestion was the mini canvases at Hobby Lobby. He is also a major active person in Steampunk, but has a very different approach, view, and concept of Steampunk. This byplay of views and information is very helpful and engages us when we are busy. This was one thing that prompted my evaluation and research of the various views on Steampunk and why they vary so much and are so strongly embedded.

4.    Evaluation. A requirement to finish a project each day requires constant rethinking of my concepts on the subject, my art, what fits, how to do something, why to do something, and what I think about. Evaluation of Steampunk and the total genre allows a thorough evaluation of all areas of my creative approach and my work. I am evaluating the history, the culture, the style, the art, the technology, the fashion, the people, any aspect that strikes my heart, mind, or work.

When I returned to University I held several jobs as I attended full time classes. One was catering, I often did table displays. For some reason this one reminded me of the meditation.
When I returned to University I held several jobs as I attended full time classes. One was catering, I often did table displays. For some reason this one reminded me of the meditation.

5.    Meditation, focus, creative development – very connected things in this project. Years ago, I meditated regularly and actively worked on my focus. I have moved a very long distance several times in the last year and was feeling very loose and unstable. This gives me a combination of things to help that: a focus, a constant sense of accomplishment, a steady cord, visible development. My art tends to change significantly when I move and having moved quite a lot, I was feeling displaced and am needing a chance to develop my identity, style, strengths, ideas, and courage as an artist. This focus is on a topic, a project, a short term and a long term goal, and a commitment. My art develops as I use it, learn new things, research, and try things. Doing a project every day allows me to try things I might have put off or not done.

6.    Learning. I am developing a deeper understanding and relationship to my topic: Steampunk. I am a researcher at heart and am learning art forms, history, materials, culture, people, and more. I have been a great subject of study for myself. Steampunk is a fascinating culture with rich history and development. The current and future state of Steampunk is an intriguing study. Beyond that you have the study of the actual periods, the period works, the speculative works, the social and historical evaluations, the relative connections, and the spin-offs. Steampunk offers art forms, technology, research, and ideas galore.

7.

This is not the first time I have combined stress and insomnia into my work and art. I try to combine my art into every aspect of life whenever I can.
This is not the first time I have combined stress and insomnia into my work and art. I try to combine my art into every aspect of life whenever I can.

Stress. Life is very stressful right now and the ability to turn away from that and have something guaranteed to be there and to have an accomplishment means a lot; even when it leaves me tired and irritated with the piece. This project produces great stress when I am way to tired and trying to work with tiny gears or found objects, or I am researching a topic I planned on being a quick essay and has extended to near midnight. Working too many hours then expecting myself to be creative is not something I ever considered a good idea but I am finding that the key is to just start. Work on this, the rest will happen or it won’t.

8.    Acceptance. Learning to accept things not going as planned and how to deal with overestimating what I could get done is good for me. I am still working on this, but see a difference already. (The corner shelf painting image is an example, I vastly overestimated the time I needed and the time I had, I was not able to finish and had to decide how to deal with that.) Research, art, technological projects, missing tools, lack of materials, so many things can go wrong. Steampunk tends to include many aspects, parts, information,detail, and materials that I may not have or may not have time for – how do I work with that? I am learning. This is good for my balance and focus on the now not later or before. Just work and think about the rest later.

9.    Input. Outside input and comments are hard for me to accept on my art. There tends to be a lot of me in my work and a comment that feels negative I do not respond well and considering at the time how to respond does not happen. Should I be accepting, open, angry, questioning, cautious  defensive, disregard, consider, evaluate, or respond? I am having to learn this now. This also causes me to pay attention to my comments more. I intend to return to more frequent commenting on interesting posts as I work into this and figure out the scheduling or pushing…something. I know input is good for art and creativity, even if many people say otherwise. You don’t  have to act on it, but strengthening your understanding, emotion, and your view of it helps you. A one sided perspective is not a long lasting focus – it becomes very flat and tired. Working from one perspective itself is strengthened by knowing the other perspectives. We learned that in writing classes – to know your argument, study the opposing arguments, really understand and be able to argue for their side to effectively stand against them. Sometimes, as in my study of Steampunk you simply develop or alter your view of the subject, but that depends on many factors and is unlikely to happen if you were not open to that when you began.

 

We move forward now, evaluating the past, but working in the now. Steampunk as a what-if is a present concept not a past or future one.
We move forward now, evaluating the past, but working in the now. Steampunk as a what-if is a present concept not a past or future one.

 As I go I intend to answer the  major questions Who, What, When, Where, Why, How from multiple perspectives, directions, and focus regarding Steampunk. Today was a personal look at me, Steampunk, and this project, I could continue for some time, thus will just send this now and hope you like it.

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Steampunk Triumph

Just a rendition of today's piece, as I have taken to making.
Just a rendition of today’s piece, as I have taken to making.

I want to redo this and some of my others when I have a way of making good rivets that allow functioning gears and precise placement. However, I like this one using a Triumph pin my husband gave me when I had my Bonneville some years ago. The magnifying glass is free enough to be used on things if needed and focuses on the Coin. It swings a bit more than I would like, I would fix that if I redid this one with the riveting. All connections are copper, as is the back gear. The others are brass and bronze. The pin is silver. Not sure what the stone is. I also like triumph cars, so the gear on the left serves duel purposes for me. Setting the gears so they fit together and spin was a challenge lacking the rivets, they are held motionless for the picture.

Steampunk, Motorcycle pin with influences of Chinese and Alice.
Steampunk, Motorcycle pin with influences of Chinese and Alice.

How Steampunk

How do cultures develop? If you have ever asked that question, it seems unlikely you would ask someone to define a culture or subculture. As a gamer I create and explore worlds unlike the dominant culture all the time. When developing a world you do not begin by describing, defining, and structuring the cultures, religions, or other social constructs. First, they are just that – social constructs. Thus they develop from and through environment, interaction, climate, changes, and any influences having even the smallest impact. One of the first stages in an in depth world is the geography. You may start with other ideas or maps, but you need geography and geology to develop the culture. Whatever social construct is there in the early stages must be open to develop and change as you flush out the details and expand the world and the history. This is actually a good view of the development of a culture, and a sub-culture is still a culture, simply one divergent from the regional dominant culture.

Cultural Influences

Let me look at an example using the geology I mentioned before. A location with no metal to be mined will have a different development. Science, technology, military, and economy will be based on other things or they will focus on either trade or expansion to obtain the materials they need. Religions developing in this region will also be impacted, thus further influencing the culture and science. Developmental stage of neighbors encountered and the political climate as they expand will further impact every aspect of the culture.

What does this have to do with Steampunk? Let’s look at the period it reveres for a minute. The Victorian age was a time of expansion, colonization, empire, and rapid development. Economy grew at alarming rates to crash in many places. Expansion to obtain material, power, and land was happening at a furious pace. Religion was on a precipice from war and expansion causing middle classes to turn to new faiths, thus an explosion of sects and religions occurred. Science and technology was exploding in wild directions and new things showed up frequently. Production and development was growing faster than cities were prepared for and pollution and exploitation ran rampant in places like London. Luxuries and entertainment were increasingly available to a broader section of society – a segment that was beginning to have increased impact on society. What would you expect of a culture arising from this?

Victorian Cultural Influences

Who defines the rules in a setting like that? Individualism was on the rise. Imperialism was dominant, and people wanted change, new, better, shiny. Brass and wood are not war materials but are practical for finery, many technological needs, and handmade developments. Constructed materials were showing up, there will always be a divide on what should be developed and what should be discarded. Here is where we see Steampunk arise. What should we have developed? Where should we have focused? What science would have served us better? What technology would have been more attractive, efficient, effective, entertaining, and socially constructive? What should the focus have been and be now? What-if is what Steampunk is all about. This brings me back to my discussion from several days ago that Steampunk will remain divers – as it should. Each of us brings our influences, our preferences, our education, our experiences, our fears, our needs, our hopes, and our aesthetic to Steampunk. This does not confuse the issue and damage the genre; it strengthens it, develops it, expands it, delves into the unexplored aspects of it, and reaches our hearts and minds.

This being said, I need now to explore details of Steampunk and where I fit. Knowing myself and my work, I will say up front – that depends on the day and what I am working on.

Zen and the Art of Steampunk

Top view to show the shape and what it is.
Top view to show the shape and what it is.

Zen has been on my mind today. This is a topic and combination I will explore more both in writing and art.

This angle is to show the multiple layers of the yin-yang and the perpetual motion units that are in the place of the usual dots of opposing color.
This angle is to show the multiple layers of the yin-yang and the perpetual motion units that are in the place of the usual dots of opposing color.
This is to show where I was going before I made the glass case and finished the gearing.
This is to show where I was going before I made the glass case and finished the gearing.

 

Angled view of same stage as the other preliminary shot, again used to show the layering and meshing.
Angled view of same stage as the other preliminary shot, again used to show the layering and meshing.

 

Modular Gearing

This is my original drawing, done in Sketch-Up.
This is my original drawing, done in Sketch-Up.
This is an art rendition done in GIMP and Photoshop.
This is an art rendition done in GIMP and Photoshop.

I designed this unit off a modular shelf unit I saw some time ago. I used gears instead of tubes and designed 3 possible shelf sizes to fit however is needed into the gears. Each gear can be added or removed separably for reconfiguration of the unit. The units are 1 foot in depth and internal diameter but could be any size, even mixed sizes, because they are gears, they can be fitted more solidly than tubes. You could do the gears out of metal and the shelves in wood or reverse.