The Dreaded Artifact Analysis

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get around to artifact analysis because I distinctly remember enjoying it once I actually got into the flow of analyzing Steampunk artifacts. That said, I thought I’d go the opposite route of my work-in-progress, where I selected the “pretty” of Steampunk. My reviewers pointed out that I could learn from the “ugly” or “unsuccessful” appropriations just as well as the pretty or successful ones, and I agree.

Fleming Framework

First, I want to disclose that I am using the Fleming framework, as proposed in [1]. The Fleming framework for artifact analysis is two-fold: classification and analysis. The five-point classification consists of the artifact’s properties: history, material, construction, design, and function. The four-point analysis consists of more cultural understanding of the artifact: identification, evaluation based on values of the present culture, cultural analysis using on selected aspects of the artifact’s culture, and interpretation.

Everyone still with me? Excellent. So shall we begin with the analysis? Indeed we shall.

Steampunk Plumbing

I’ve decided to begin with something that has been termed a Steampunk faucet, as found on the blog There I Fixed It. Here is the original image linking to its post.

Tapping Into Steam Punk
see more There I Fixed It

There isn’t much to go on, given the nature of the blog, for the classification. The blog, or so it seems to me, is meant for mocking, making it difficult to pinpoint original sources and information such as history, etc. That won’t stop me from trying, anyway.

History

None as I can tell, unless you include the assumptions of how this appropriation happened. My assumptions include someone trying their hand at a do-it-yourself (DIY) plumbing solution. The faucet spigots are meant to be wall-mounted so I assume the project didn’t exactly go as planned…

Material

The counter seems to be tile, the sink stainless steel. There is plastic tubing, a block of 2×4, another piece of wood, and two faucet spigots that seem to be made of brass.

Construction

I would consider this an amateur construction based from my own DIY knowledge. These spigots are meant to be wall-mounted. You can tell because the base of the spigot is almost perpendicular to the spigot itself, and then the faucet, i.e. where the water is meant to pour from, is angled to shoot away from the wall. This was obviously not thought through at the time of purchase. Also, I’m not sure where this photo was taken, but as I understand it, and based on the blog post comments, left is the typical placement for hot water, and right for cold. This set-up has it backwards.

Design

See above for my thoughts on the design.

Function

To provide water for cooking, cleaning, consumption.

Identification

I’m not entirely sure why this was labeled as Steampunk, to be honest. I suppose because it’s using what could be called old-fashioned water faucets, that happen to be brass, and it’s obviously a DIY job? Still, I believe this is a fair stretch to call it Steampunk.

Evaluation based on values of the present culture

With the above said, I feel this does, at least, reflect much of the DIY, and not only DIY but DIY for little money, that happens in the Steampunk community. It’s not enough for many people, as my P2 interviewee stated, to do something with their own hands, it’s also part of the fun to see how little one can spend. Especially college students who want to do creative things, but don’t have money to spend. P2 said Steampunk allows the sort of “patchwork” style because it so obviously grabs inspiration from multiple genres.

In that way, I feel this artifact reflects the financial and sustainable sensibilities, as it were, of the Steampunk community.

Cultural analysis using on selected aspects of the artifact’s culture

I have no idea where to go with this one. Better luck next time, perhaps?

Interpretation

I interpret this artifact to not be created by a self-proclaimed Steampunk. Rather, it is the work of a DIY job that was deemed less-than-stellar, posted online, and called Steampunk because of the assumed attempted aesthetic. (Try saying that three times fast!)

Despite this, I feel we can learn from this artifact. I’m certain that whomever did this faucet job is proud of the work they did. Oftentimes, those of us starting out with DIY, we don’t care that it isn’t the most beautiful. The fact of the matter is that we did it with our  hands and our knowledge. We have learned, and will do it better next time. We’ll be faster, cleverer, etc.

The End

Phew. One down. Twenty (and more) to go.

References

  1. Fleming, E. 1974. Artifact study: a proposed model. In Winterthur Portfolio 9 (1974), 153-173.

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