A picture of my steampunk self in 2009 during one of the first events I attended in NYC for International Steampunk Day
Thinking about my contributions for “Steampunk Hands Around the World” this year made me reflect upon my time spent in the community. There have been highs and lows, and admittedly enough, I had no idea how much my life would change in the past eight years because of this aesthetic and the creative community inspired by it. One of the reasons why I have stuck around has been the belonging I have found through the people, places, and things we have created.
A few years ago in graduate school, I took a class called “Performance of Everyday Life”, which interrogated how we understand ourselves and the way we move through the world as acts of performance. From religious ritual to amateur hobbies, from gender roles to cosplay, from sports to clubbing to fashion — what all of these activities have in common is the idea of how different levels of theatricality, presentation, and action is incorporated into our daily identities.
My final paper was an ethnographic study contemplating making and community spaces in New York City and the convention scene. Reading this over, I see how this can be interpreted as a counterargument of a recent critique of the maker movement written in The Atlantic. Unlike The Atlantic‘s critique of the capital-driven, competition-oriented DIY movement, I think steampunk community’s values provide an alternate view to making which is tied into group identity and fostering spaces of non-competitive creativity that values both traditional masculine and feminine arts. Artistic camaraderie endows the steampunk object with affect value that grows into something greater than the object itself. Though it was written in 2012, and some of the steampunks featured in this article I have lost touch with or left the community for one reason or another, this essay overall embodies many thoughts I have about the inherent beauty of creation and sense of home I get with fellow steampunks. This is, more than anything, a love letter to an art movement.
I’ll be posting a new part of this essay every Sunday this month.
Undoubtedly, some of my favorite aspects of the steampunk community are the social gatherings, especially conventions. Motor City Steam Con is a new convention in Detroit, and I’m excited to be one of their guests this year. Beyond Victoriana will be offering one free weekend pass to a lucky reader this week. Follow the rules below to enter!
1) This giveaway will be for one free weekend pass. Readers can only submit one entry per household. US and International entries are welcome.
2) Enter between February 1st 2016, through February 6th, 2016, at midnight EST (GMT -5:00).
3) Winners will be chosen via their comment number using Random.org. Winners will be contacted via email and must reply within 24 hours with their mailing address to claim their prize. Otherwise a new winner will be selected.
Image courtesy of El Investigador
For the third year in a row, Kevin Steil the Airship Ambassdor and steampunks around the globe will be celebrating as part of “Steampunk Hands Around the World,” running from February 1st – 29th. This year’s theme will be “My Favorite Things”, where some of the community’s loves will be highlighted across several blogs and websites, including this one.
Readers can follow the blogging event on the Airship Ambassador blog site. You can also check out links via this event’s Twitter hashtags #SteampunkHands and #SHaW , and on the official Facebook event page.
Stay tuned here for some special contributions BV will be making this month as well.
This February, the steampunk community gathers together to share individual and community achievements with the rest of the world. Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador takes the helm once again for Year Two of this online blogging event. People can follow on their Facebook page or the Twitter hashtag #SteampunkHands for more details– the Airship Ambassador will also host a list of all articles on their blog, updated daily.
As for Beyond Victoriana, watch this space for upcoming features & interviews throughout the month.
This article is part of Steampunk Hands Around the World international event, running between Feb 2nd and Feb 28th. For a full listing of events, check out the Airship Ambassador blog.
Over the years in the steampunk community, I’ve seen its potential to work together for more than shared fandom reasons to impact the larger world around us. The community’s Maker influence could be a cause why: if people like to fiddle around with machines out of junk, their tinkering becomes a physical demonstration of how people can re-think an object to make it work better, breathe new mechanical life into it, as well as making it aesthetically pleasing in its functionality. I’ve seen that attitude transfer to other works that steampunks have done. On top of that, the types of people who are involved in the community — tinkerers, artists, educators of all stripes — create a space where ideas bounce off of one another, and perhaps, that creativity which stirs up a person’s inner initiative to try and change a bit of their own lives then spreads into other aspects of life too.
It’s not surprising then, that several initiatives have started up in the community with the aim of social and public betterment. I won’t deny that I have a certain perspective about this, given the people that I associate with tend to value ways that explore social causes, whether it be through increased artistic literacy, media critique and representation, environmental or political causes, or education. Many of these people are friends of the blog and you can check out their work here. Various steampunk conventions also have had a charity fundraiser at their event, as what usually happens at events such as TeslaCon, Dragon*Con’s Alternate History Track, and Steampunk World’s Fair. For Steampunk Hands Around the World this month, I wanted to highlight some various ways that the steampunk community is giving back, to show that we’re more than a group with a retrofuturistic side hobby.
Image Credit: Raydeen Graffam
Earlier this week, I got an invitation for my good friend and steampunk colleague Kevin Steil of the Airship Ambassador to join a new community initiative that had stemmed from last TeslaCon: “Steam Hands Around the World.” Below is the press release about this worldwide blogging event, which is set to run this February. You can track all the events for this month here.
Just as current day expressions of steampunk are not limited to the literature where it began, the people in the steampunk community are not bound to any one geographical region. Steampunk appears in many forms, and with its popularity, the community has grown to encompass the world.
The celebration and sharing of that global association is at the heart of a new project, Steampunk Hands Around the World, by Kevin Steil, the creator and editor of steampunk news and information resource website, Airship Ambassador. With more than three dozen steampunk creators – bloggers, authors, event organizers, and others – also participating, the month long project is a multi format media presentation about the international connections and communications in the community, for steampunks and non-steampunks alike.
Beginning Sunday, February 2nd, and continuing until Friday, February 28th, the group will show and share that steampunks everywhere are linked together and that new friends are waiting in every conversation.
Steampunk, in its many forms, brings people together in an inclusive and helpful network of similar mind. From sharing book and music review opinions, to playing the newest games and sharing DIY information on fashion and props, the steampunk community easily and comfortably brings together people ages eight to eighty in ways not often seen in other communities.
The full and updated-daily list of participating websites, blogs and events will be posted in the kick-off blog on the Airship Ambassador blog site:
For more information, please contact Kevin Steil at Kevin@AirshipAmbassador.com
So far, over 50 individuals from more than 11 countries speaking across seven different languages are planning to participate. Watch this space for more to come!