Seeing the Steampunk light

July 15, 2008

I’m hardly an art critic. And I don’t abide by the cliché, “I know good art when I see it.” Like many people, I gravitate to images that trigger an emotional and visceral reaction that lingers. That’s the experience I had last night, stumbling upon Steampunk wallpapers while cruising boingboing.

The wallpapers are creations of Mouse, an artist who’s goal is to produce a wallpaper each day. Her “Map to a factory long gone” grips me for reasons I don’t fully understand:

Mouse, it turns out, is a fellow Portlander, blogger (Geekery Abounds), and writer. Her art is an eclectic mix. She paints, sculpts, works with fibers, and creates Photoshop images. Photoshop, she says, “isn’t a program, it’s a religion.” Mouse links here to the stunning original photograph that inspired “Map.” (Sonya, the photographer, also describes the setting and context for the image.)

Now for a confession of my unhippness: until recently I had never heard of Steampunk anything. Then I found Steampunk bikes, Steampunk keyboards, watches, and a lot more. Steampunk definitions, I’ve learned, are varied, too.

The imagination and intricacy of many of the works are inspiring. Some have an alluring, haunting resonance. At other stages of my life, Steampunk wouldn’t have appealed to me.

Something’s changed.