Pilot Studies

There are a couple of great things about SteamPunk which I would like to share.

  1. True SteamPunks are all about sharing their knowledge of craft. For instance, I-Wei Huang wrote an article describing how your SteamPunk drawings can be more authentic… which has helped my sketching immensely for ceramics.
  2. People have no idea what it is, and when I describe it, they’re always excited. Or at least intrigued.
  3. If I decide to go SteamPunk for Halloween, I only have to buy goggles and potentially make a bustle because guess what, I already have the rest of the costume in my wardrobe. Sweet.
  4. There is so much information out there about SteamPunk for me to sift through, and most of it is entertaining.
  5. Did I mention there’s a SteamPunk Guide to the Apocalypse? I’m prepared. Are you?

All right, now let’s get a little more serious, here. This past week one of the first years, Robert Begley, engaged my topic. He asked me some great questions that helped crystallize some of my thoughts, and I wanted to document that somewhere, i.e. here at Siriomi Reflects.

Robert’s email:

Okay I have a couple questions 🙂 🙂
First off, are you focusing more on why people (self)customize, DIY, etc vs. buying the actual, branded, product or going to a professional to get something customized? Are you using Steampunk more as a reference in terms of.. well so for example in video games, in the genre, there tends to be customizations of weapons/tools/etc. You mentioned Bioshock for example, have you played it? Have you seen those “customizations”? I want to say Steampunk comes with the idea of the “mad scientist” where there is *only* one person who creates these “technological advances” in a non-technological world – or rather that it is more rare to see tech. So no commercialization obviously etc…
Is customization/DIY/hacking/<add another word here that relations> more of your focus?
I’m just trying to understand more of your focus and where Steampunk fits in ;p

My reply…

Excellent! I’m glad you’re asking these questions.

I’m focusing on why people self-customized through DIY. I’m using Steampunk as an example of the DIY movement, as the people who alter the aesthetics of their technology typically do it themselves… they have the skill set and apply it creatively to something that traditionally is bought and used without any particular customization (keyboards, monitors, iPhones, etc).

I have not played Bioshock, I had only just heard about it before speaking with you.

I see Steampunk almost as a rebellious movement against the homogenized technology that currently rules our world. I’m interested in that. Why are people rebelling against this? Why is it important for people to feel connected to the objects in their lives? Why do they take that extra step to customize/personalize/hack something, when others don’t?

But yes. I am interested in self-personalization, the creative motivations that go into DIY appropriation. Steampunk is merely my example of this, as there are plenty of people to interview, either online or in-person.

Thanks! This helped me clear up a lot of things. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Robert then surprised me by telling me a story about his own DIY dabbling, which is EXCELLENT, and a great pilot study example of DIY and some appropriation. I did a happy dance. I have yet to respond to his email because I’ve been running across state lines this past week, but that’s next on my To Do list. Just wanted to update on my capstone progress.