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Friday, June 6, 2008


I am fascinated by Steampunk culture.

Steampunk seems to be an expanding culture in fashion and design. Perhaps I respond to it like I respond to Art Deco. There is something special in adding an artful twist to everyday items, which has been an element in both the designs of the late 1800's and the early 1900's. Such designs have a warmth and charm that I find missing in later eras.

Steampunk, to me, reflects the optimism of the industrial revolution. Art Deco seems to reflect a hope for the future in an era of trouble and insecurity.

Neither of these movements are without a dark side. In their original forms, or in their reflection and reintroduction in the later eras, there exists a sense of risk, danger and dispair. Yet there remains an essence of optimism, which surprises me.

I am old enough to remember a time when "civilized" people had not yet been everywhere on earth. Granted, the wild places had become few, but they still existed. For some reason Steampunk captures some of this promises of discovery I sensed as a child.

Today the movement is found in costumed play (cosplay), anime, movies, and games. I was surprised to find a colony of Steampunk afficionados living their dreams in Second Life, the massively multiplayer online simulation on the Internet. Some of the persona are well developed, with their own blogs. The modeling tools have been used to create fashion and architecture in an emersive environment where Steampunk role playing can take place.

To be quite honest, it is the first really interesting application I have seen for Second Life. Then again, I have barely explored that alternate reality.

Exploring Steampunk is fun. Perhaps the influence will bring about some very interesting changes in design and fashion. I know I will keep an eye on the culture as it develops.

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