Monday, September 14, 2009

In Which I Am Puzzled By Trends.

So Renegade Craft Fair was this weekend. Yay, because neat stuff, but boo, because it's still the same crafty twee angry monsters and bird/owl silhouettes and deep sea creatures, but now they've added mustaches to the list. And they're cute and hilarious, sure, but none of the styles have really evolved into anything new or exciting, and that is a big fat bummer. They just keep adding new mascots instead of engineering a new style.

The t-shirts are getting more ironic by the day (the best one I saw was a t-shirt with a t-shirt on it, which I think is far more hilarious than the lame-o shirt with Abe Lincoln dressed like a pirate, but whatever) and I guess I'm not the biggest fan of the artwork (not much of it can compete with the stuff that Meagan draws anyway).

More steampunk jewelry and art and stuff, though. It is fucking ridiculous - the speed which that trend is hurling into the mainstream - they've got Victorian-buttoned boots and fake vintage gaslamps at fucking Target.

I'm not saying that people are gonna deck themselves out in corsets and goggles and tailcoats (I wouldn't, that's for sure, but I do wear a recycled clockgear necklace every day because it's fucking awesome) because that's for the extremis
ts, but pretty soon we're gonna have T-shirts etched with armillary spheres and everyone is going to get astronomical compass tattoos. You just wait. Oh, and don't start with me about how clocks don't have steam so they're not steampunk - it's the philosophy behind building the gears, and you fucking know it.

I mean, it's been around forever, but are all those steampunk and gadgetfan believers going to be pissed when their style edges more obviously into pop culture (books, movies, fashion)? It's gorgeous stuff sometimes, but (much like the vampire business) the point is that it's a ruthless, romantic fringe movement. Steampunk is about savage changes at an astounding rate, it's about exploring the smokey, nostalgic corners of your brain where your mind is racked and pinioned together and finding a reflecting mind out in the ether of fiction - which is really, really, really, in all honesty, extraordinarily hard to do. It gives substance to a brutal, lush reverie without trivialization.

How are all of these fantasies going to retain that element of escapism when they're imitated to the point of irrelevance? Is it more important to share that arcane fantasy with someone who'd never experienced it, or more important to protect the idea and keep it safe from those who would cheapen the value you've personally given it?

I mean, that's applicable to any trend.

There are works of art, and they mean something to people. It should be shared - but it should be understood first.


I want to find all those fantasy books that I just overly consumed and fed off of in high school, and now I don't remember any titles or authors.

Later Addition, Because I'm Embarassed That I Wrote This: I don't want anyone to think I know what I'm talking about here. I really don't know much about steampunk from a social perspective. I never followed it or sought it out, but after seeing all this shit on Etsy and stuff, I started looking it up online. I was like, "This looks like it came from those books I used to read. Fucking awesome." And then I discovered it was this entire genre of wonderful crap that all these people were crazy obsessed with, and then I thought about genres losing momentum, and how sad it is, and how some things are specialer when they're kept secret.



Ellie said...

Ok, I have to admit it: I have never heard of steampunk before. I wonder if it has something to do with my age, my geography, or just being a goober.

Blues said...

this is the same thing as the cool becoming too cool and then reaching cool exhaustion and becoming uncool. (replace any of the above 'cools' with 'uncool' and vice versa).

The same thing is true with the whole vintage house decorating movement. Yeah, it was cool when vintage knobs and stoves and lamps were found at second hand stores for next to nothing. Now to find that shit, you go to the clean, much more palatable Anthropologie to buy overpriced vintage-like old-looking new shit.

The whole thing makes me want to puke, because nothing can ever be cool without some money hungry fuck making a buck and then mass producing the shit in factories and then millions of people uniquely decorate their homes with the same exact shit.

The whole thing makes shopping at IKEA so much more appealing. It's so much more honest because you know for a fact that literally millions of people will have the same exact shit in your house as you do. That's better than fooling yourself into thinking your vintage-like stuff is one of a kind when it's made in a chinese sweatshop.

Rassles said...

I actually didn't even hear of the word until like a year ago. I called it "You know, where like old-timey and futurey stuff get all mixed together."

Rassles said...

And Blues: Exactly.

Blues said...

Oh, and I love how I acted like I totally knew what steampunk was and didn't have to wikipedia that shit.

Anonymous said...

as an art form moves from the fringe toward the center, i think that drives the creative folk to explore new space. seems a natural evolution... but you're right, it's sad when it moves so fast no one really ever understands it.

welcome back, by the way...

Rassles said...

Yeah, I REALLY want to reiterate this: I didn't even realize steampunk was a trend until I heard the word, but I've been familiar with the genre for years. Ever since the Golden Compass came out this stuff is becoming more and more apparent, but in subtle ways. Not obviously or anything, but the cut of jackets and boots, gear designs and pictures of whimsical, complex steam-powered's just like all that shit I used to read.

It's crazy.

Wanderlust Jones said...

I was under the impression that if you put a mustache on anything it was immediately catapulted to an art state.

And yeah... vampires...

With mustaches!

Wanderlust Jones said...

I also? I hate that everything... has a label and a title and half the time they put punk on the end and now it's a movement.

I think I just wobble in this big jello mold and I'm all that's cool until you give it a fucking name and a title and then it's all entitled.

So I guess I'm all jellomoldmod or some shit.

A Free Man said...

I haven't been cool for like five years, so am not in a position to comment. I'm waiting for me to come back into style in like 2020. Then I'll take over the world.

Anonymous said...

I'm laughing AFM because I've been thinking that exact same thing.

Erin said...

I never heard of steampunk either!

Feeling better.

I bought stuff at Wal-Mart for the same reason Blues points to Ikea, but then I felt bad for the greeters. I just couldn't.

My favorite trend run amok was when all my students in China suddenly started wearing crosses with dead Jesuses. They were selling like hotcakes at all these sort of Chinesey versions of Claire's Boutiques.

Sid said...

Yay you're back! "Is it more important to share that arcane fantasy with someone who'd never experienced it." I don't feel the same way at all about arcane fantasy BUT there are certain things that I want to be kept a secret, certain things that I only want the special people in my life to know/experience. So I totally understand where you're coming from.

Meagan said...

Thanks for the art plug!

I was into steampunk before I had a clue what it was called, but probably long after it was anything new. Our wedding last year was slightly "neovictorian" but really just weird (exactly how we wanted it).

I've noticed the same thing about copycat styles at craft fairs, and I guess it's also a big problem on etsy. I think that's just how creative movements go though. There will always be a few tend BREAKING innovators, and by the time anyone else catches on they're already five years away. I think the style does change, it's just hard to see when you're in the midst of it. I've noticed some visual trends in crafts that I was just starting to see in studio art back when I was in college. Now current studio art is starting to break out of the flat trendy icon look, to keep up with the availability of more sophisticated digital tools (even traditional mediums like painting are leaning), but crafty stuff has only picked up on the flat cartoon thing in the last few years.

Then again I could be completely wrong because, now that I think of it, I've only been AWARE of the craft movement for a few years. Maybe it really is going nowhere.

Also, just thought you'd like to know. My word verification is "phalis"

Le Meems said...

My crafty Etsy friend, made me a corset out of recycledtshirts and bike reflective wear to wear on the playa.
cuz, I was riding my bike dooode.

And all the Burning Man Steampunkers looked so fucking twinsie and uniform and had this whole 'trying too hard' look. Lame.
It is best always to start at 0 and not look over your shoulder at anyone else. Stop riffing and building layers of copycat and just start being yourself.

BTW: I'm on the hunt for a series of books where they did a bobcat whistle and the best friend was named Honey.