A parallel universe exists where inventions are created by people who dress in 19th-century garb with thick goggles, ornate hats and ruffled sleeves. They are men and women worldwide who share a futuristic vision through a Victorian lens, steam-powered machines of infinite complexity that perform a simple task, and a sense of independence that ultimately shines creatively.
This is the world of Steampunk which, as Stephen Beale suggests, defies any single definition.
“It started out as a literary genre, but now it’s a whole subculture,” Beale says. “So, there are events and games and some people these days describe it more as an aesthetic.”
It’s a fair description given that there are conventions, exhibitions, musical and fashion statements with a Steampunk theme. He first discovered Steampunk as a wandering photographer not so long ago.
“Back around 2011, I was looking for places to go to take cool photos. And then I found out about this event called Maker Fair, which is kind of, it’s on the scale of a county fair, but it’s all about do-it-yourself stuff, do-it-yourself creativity. So people build these wild projects that they would bring to Maker Fair and show them.”
As a lifelong journalist who has specialized in cyber-tech and graphic arts technology, Stephen has seen the entire evolution of computer and digital gear go from stick-figure interfaces to the current A.I. craze. It’s still early to predict which way A.I. will affect our lives.
“I mean you hear you hear both the dystopian view and the utopian view. Nobody really knows. But I think one of the things you can say for sure is that in these small areas where it has already found applications and particularly art, which is what I’m mostly interested in, art and the writing part of it, it’s going to put commercial artists out of business.”
But that dire prediction isn’t the end of it. Listen to my conversation with Stephen about Steampunk, creativity and the advent of the next stage in our cyber development in this episode of Type. Tune. Tint.