Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Emotional Range of Steampunk

In the good captain's most humble opinion, a great deal of steampunk visions and creations are decidedly lacking in emotion. If anything this might be a reflection of the industrial revolution and its impact on the era, which I would say would be sadly appropriate. Naturally, emotion does still manage to slip in occasionally, most typically in the artwork expressing the vision. For example, look at this wonderfully melancholy work by Kazuhiko Nakamura, "Requiem for Industry":

Requiem for Industry - steampunk art by Kazuhiko Nakamura
Simply marvelous, is it not! This picture makes me think back to another wonderfully melancholy steampunk movie that happily resides in my personal library - The City of Lost Children.

Images and visions like this are good and healthy for the steampunk genre, and are certainly appropriate as well. Despite the technological breakthroughs of the time and the new luxuries people were able to enjoy there came a price with such things, pollution, dangerous factory conditions, industrial slums, etc. For every newfangled horseless carriage some daring driver was enjoying down country roads there were a dozen children working the production line.

I hope I am not sounding like I prefer or even revel in sadness, but I believe it is important to explore all the emotional possibilities of a genre to fully appreciate it, after all - what is happiness or joy without sadness? They are not defined by their opposites, but their opposites allow you to appreciate the them in their full glory. Otherwise they would just feel hallow and empty. In truth the good captain is quite the optimist! I am happiest when I'm happiest! Sadness does take hold of my heart, as it does all men and women, but I understand it will pass and it will make the next high feel all the higher.

For example, ponder the above image for a while or better yet, follow the æthyrlink to the artists site and explore there for a bit. After allowing the emotional weight of the images to sit on your shoulders look at the next image and see what kind of reaction you have.

steampunk cat
No matter how serious a genre might seem, it is of utmost importance that it be able to laugh at itself once in a while or the whole enterprise is certainly doomed! With this in mind, I would also like to share the following:

steampunk penguin
You should be laughing now. If not, you should be getting back to work!
(if so, you should be getting back to work as well!)

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