The Flight Log Fall 2014 - Page 2

The Rivet Fleet “What is steampunk”, that innocuous yet slightly infuriating question is posed to me on a daily basis, to the point where I am tempted to stop answering and just whip out a little informative pamphlet instead. Almost as often, particularly in the professional sphere, I am asked why I haven’t fled Michigan, and particularly Metro Detroit, for some utopian, opportunity laden, far off city, as if I am doing myself some incredible disservice by remaining here. Why do I torture myself by living in this resource stripped wasteland? And the more I have answered both redundant and uncomfortable questions, the more the answer has fused and it has become clear to me how intimately related the two issues are. If you are still asking the first one, please help yourself to any of the fine resources online for some images and definitions, because here I will go instead into what steampunk means to me personally. Steampunk is the ability to see form, function, and beauty, in things that would otherwise be regarded as ‘used’, ‘discarded’, or ‘worthless’. The process of salvage itself is very closely ingrained with my professional mission as a sustainable designer, and while philosophers have delved very deeply into subjects of creativity, problem solving, and the design process, not a lot of light has been shed onto the unique imaginative impulse that drives someone to re-use a material, or retrofit an already designed object for some completely other purpose. In a lot of ways, this is a beautiful allusion to Detroit, and the Depression era paradigm of fixing broken things when new ones can’t be purchased, and as this is done enough, the handicrafts developed in this way take on more value as folk art and something cherished. Necessity is the mother of invention, and that is the very essence of the steampunk aesthetic; it is fulfilling a deeply rooted human need to reconcile the past and future, and catalog and appreciate all aspects of life in a chronologically meaningful, mentally stimulating, and artistically pleasing way.