Steampunk

 

Image Copyright Patrick Boland

Image Copyright Patrick Boland

Doodling in class, I made a portmanteau of the words of “craft” and “punk,” yielding “crunk.” While I giggled at the result, I realized that mixing the crafting and punk mentalities yields something completely different: Steampunk. Steampunk is significantly different from most of the craft work we discussed in class for many reasons, but the one I want to focus on most is the existence of gender roles. A lot of crafting uses materials and processes typically reserved for “women’s work.” A part of the craft/DIY revolution, of course, is breaking down those gender barriers, but the fact remains that at most craft shows and the like, the majority of the crafts are made and sold by women. Steampunk, on the other hand, is strongly masculine (though not exclusively, of course).

Steampunk is somewhat hard to define. Generally, it is an exploration of retr0-futurism (predictions of the future from the point of view of the past) with the notion that steam would be the world’s primary source of power. In other words, instead of electricity and plastic, the technology we use today would be made of brass and glass, while being powered by steam. 

Since uni-body brass computer monitors are in short supply in this modern age, all steampunk devices must be meticulously hand crafted, which requires extensive knowledge of metalwork and lathes, etc. The pieces take ages to create, but they’re made with a perfectionist aesthetic, and usually look absolutely stunning. Not to stray unintentionally into politically incorrect language, but metal/machine work is typically more of a masculine affair, and as such, keeps steampunk separate from the majority of the craft movement. It’s also different in the fact that it is a purely aesthetic movement– the pieces that are created are almost never more functional than the objects they replace, and have no real practical purpose.

All that aside, the real reason I’m sharing this style is because I love it. I don’t have the time/materials/technical ability to create any of my own (with the exception of a few small sculpture pieces), so I’m constantly in awe of what people can do with the idea. If you think I’m totally wrong about my understanding of the gender roles involved with the craft movement, please comment. I’m just one opinion.

And now to the music. This first track is just incredible. I don’t know who he’s being mashed with, but Jay-Z has rarely sounded better. It has the perfect amount of energy– just on the edge of frantic, but not enough that it’s bothersome.

Reggae just isn’t used in mash-ups enough, in my opinion, so I was glad to find this second track. This track makes really good use of stereo imaging, as well, so if you can listen to it with headphones, I recommend it.

There also seems to be a general lack of gospel in mash-ups, which is silly, since they’re often a cappella, and thus extremely easy to work alongside an instrumental track, like in this third song.

Again, if you think I’m off the mark with my observations today, let me know!

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