What is Steampunk?
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction. Steampunk can be defined as an alternate history made possible by the inclusion of fantastic inventions created out of the Victorian culture. This is a study of the origins of Steampunk including the art, culture and fashion. Steampunk culture takes elements from the Victorian or Edwardian time period and are combined with science fiction type inventions and machines that are built from the same elements.
Steampunk gained it’s greatest importance during the 1980s and 1990s coexisting with the rise of Gothic and Punk culture. Sometimes these various cultures were, and still are, combined as a form of individualism that separates itself from mainstream culture. Almost all of the societal elements were formed well before Steampunk was defined but what is considered Steampunk culture is how these different Victorian era components are mixed with modern cultural influences.
Literature, Art, Cinema, and Music
H.G. Wells and Jules Verne wrote many science fiction novels set in Victorian England. The descriptions of their inventions, in that setting, were a great influence on the development of Steampunk. The artistic representation of these machines bears a remarkable resemblance to the inventive art of Leonard De Vinci but with a more Victorian flair. Steampunk art has evolved from these humble beginning into a full blown art form in modern society.
Influences of modern Steampunk machine art can be found in movies and TV shows such as Star Wars, Wild Wild West, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the 1960 movie version of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, The TV series Warehouse 13 include many Steampunk type inventions.
Steampunk music combines the fashion, art and subject matter of Steampunk culture. Some of the more famous Steampunk bands are Abney Park, Doctor Steel, Rasputina, and The Synthetic Dream Foundation.
People that adopt Steampunk fashion are not, normally, dressing the same as people did in the 19th century. It is is possible to do so and still be considered Steampunk since the fashion look is so dated. Victorian fashion is usually added to modern, outlandish, punk fashion for individual expression. There are people who have adopted Steampunk lifestyles, similar to the Gothic or Cyberpunk lifestyles, and define themselves by the fashion, art, and culture.
The Future of Steampunk
Modern society has evolved to the point of acceptance of various sub cultures. There is no reason that sub cultural societies will continue to exist and become integrated into what we will call “culture” in the future. Steampunk culture will coexist along with other sub cultures and whatever may be considered “normal” for the foreseeable future. Steampunk fashion, art, music, and inventions should evolve but will still retain the familiar attributes we call Steampunk.
“The Steampunk Workshop.” steampunkworkshop.com
“15 (More) Creative Works of Steampunk Art and Fashion: From Steam Tanks to Cufflinks.” weburbanist.com
“The Time Machine.” movies.com