"What if the Victorians had access to digital technology? What would it look like? It certainly wouldn't look like anything we see today. All of our digital devices wrapped in generic plastic. If the Victorians had access to all of our new technology, it would be done in beautiful woods, brass rivets and there'd be an exposed mechanical element to all of the devices," Art Donovan, steampunk curator at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford University.
That pretty much sums up the style and historical milieu of the increasingly popular steampunk designs and fashion, which a number cruncher for IBM says is going to go mainstream in the next two years.
"The trajectory for steampunk as a popular social and cultural trend is on the rise," Trevor Davis, a consumer products expert at IBM, wrote in the IBM sponsored A Smarter Planet blog.
Davis says pop culture and social media references to steampunk have risen dramatically since 2009.
"For steampunk, the tipping point came in October 2010, when NYC ComicCon and a NYC Haunted House Halloween event both featured steampunk themes. Two months after that exposure, the level of social chatter more than doubled," he wrote.
In the next couple of years, he said, expect to see the steampunk aesthetic to migrate from subculture "craft" manufacturing to mass production and mainstream fashion labels.
We asked the heads of these two groups to send us their thoughts on the steampunk revolution. Here's what they wrote us:
Diana Vick, Vice Chair of Steamcon:
Steampunk got its start as a lowly subset of science fiction, coined in the 1980's, taking the Victorian era and using 20/20 hindsight to re-imagine it with mad scientists, airships and automatons. Fast forward to now where this retro-futuristic dream is igniting the imagination of not just writers but artist, musicians, clothing designers and well ... everyone. There are now gallery show, concerts and entire conventions based on steampunk.
Steampunk has gone from a mere literary genre to an entire subculture. For some, it is a way of life. I feel that the appeal may come from the wish to return to a simpler technological time but also a return to ornamentation and craftsmanship.
Our slick mass produced lives aren't feeding our souls, so we are exploring and reinventing the past.
To experience more of steampunk from Vick's corner of the aesthetic, head on over to Steamcon.
Now this from DodiRose Zooropa, event coordinator, Steampunk Exhibition Ball:
Steampunk is an alternate history of the Victorian era. It's a fantasy world where steam power remains king. Steampunk's origins are in science fiction literature but it has now grown to a subculture focused on arts of all types. There is a heavy costume or fashion component to steampunk but that is really the last art form to be touched by the style.
Steampunk attracted me because it allows one to take what you love from the Victorian era without feeling constrained to recreate. It's freeing to let your creativity wander and create a world of your own. As a costume designer, I have always loved the Victorian era and steampunk allows me to blend my love of history and sewing with my own artistic style. Although there are general guidelines to the style it is open to a wider interpretation that historical reenacting or even modern fashion for that matter
We created the Steampunk Exhibition Ball to bring an extravagant and sexy event to the Seattle steampunk scene and as a benefit for the Center for Sex Positive Culture. The CSPC and steampunk are not an obvious pairing but the diversity within the steampunk movement has made the event an amazing success.
We get steampunks, kinksters, burners, costumers, ballroom dancers, artists, musicians, gamers and all other sorts of other nerdy persuasions. Every year it becomes more extravagant and people continue to have a great time. We are now in our fourth year and have made the move with MOHAI to South Lake Union.
Our audience seems to love the opportunity to take in Seattle's history while dressed to the nines and listening to some of Seattle's finest steampunk music, not to mention dancing to it.
Check out their website for more of what Steampunk Exhibition Ball is up to.
Read more at: http://www.seattlepi.com/national/article/Steampunk-fashion-is-heading-for-the-4203715.php