Could this be the new counterculture? Someone born before 1970, help me out, here. I’m too young to have known the last one.
They call it steampunk, an aesthetic and a subculture “that simultaneously embraces burlap and iPhones.” Whatever it is, I kind of like it.
This more-than-retro computer keyboard first caught my eye.
Then this video showing the artist who created it making a companion flatscreen in similar Victorian fashion. Call me crazy, but that’s artistry. That’s craftsmanship. That’s a $300 Dell monitor with brass fittings and a marble stand!
Maybe this is just the new Creative Anachronism, a twist on something we’ve seen before. Folks who just like being different, camping out in every sense of the phrase.
We like different. No real complaints there.
But where the medieval times and civil war reenactors typically chose to stay “in character,” at least for scheduled events, these steampunk folks seem to pick and choose what they like from both current and their preferred eras, blending them into a full time style of life.
There looks to be some selective rejection of the trappings of consumer culture here, a positive trend. Some effort to exert a little control over the forms. There is some nostalgia here, too, although none of these people can be old enough to have real memories of mechanical typewriters or telegraph machines. So is the nostalgia more basic, a yearning for an analog, push button, personal touch technology that has somehow been buried in decades of molded plastic?
I find this an appealing aesthetic in the way the movies Dune and the more recent Golden Compass married the steam-engine and digital worldviews. It adds a sense of solidity to everyday items we’ve come to see as disposable. In this sense, I think it reflects a similar impulse to the one driving the “slow movement” of organic farming and sustainable living.
Although my interests in falconry, coursing, cooking, writing, gardening, acoustic music, etc., predate my recognition of these activities as possibly “nostalgic,” I can now see that as part of their satisfaction. But they are all also contemporary and living forms of art; they are not merely affectations.
Like this steampunk aesthetic, if I read it right, these hobbies and pursuits are manifestations of an appreciation for real life, tactile and lasting, wherever you find it.