It’s difficult to free your mind from the unconscious mental trappings of social norms. We grow up learning what is right and wrong, normal and then weird then spend our entire lives trying to toe the line between originality and insanity. Doing this, we can miss some of the most enjoyable concepts or creations of art simply because they’re too “out there.”
Steampunk is one of those gems that might be overlooked in favor of more traditional interpretations of film, visual and musical artistry. Essentially, it’s a genre of fantasy, speculative fiction, science fiction, and alternate history involving a setting in which steam power (hence the “steam” part of Steampunk) is used alongside scientific fiction or fantasy elements. It works along the lines of creating a scene that the persons of the Victorian era would have associated with their vision of the future considering their views on culture, architecture, art, and fashion. While it can apply to bands, fashion and visual art, perhaps the most engaging introduction is through film.
Gypsey Teague, the branch head for the Clemson University’s Guinn Architecture Library, is the coordinator for Upstate Steampunk. She recently started an appreciation group on campus whose meetings are going to be centered on the observation and critique of various Steampunk materials. The first meeting, held on Sept. 14, focused on a film Teague had recently been sent to show to students. As the coordinator for the Upstate conference, she is constantly seeking exclusive Steampunk material, the most recent of which was the film “Aurora” directed by Chris Kellett.
After three and a half years in the making, “Aurora” was finally released under Urtext Film Productions in association with Rough Cut Productions at its premier in New Adelaide, South Africa on Aug. 1. A summary of the plot is inadequate in attempting to convey the significance of this film and does no justice to the genre that it proudly associates with: simply, a man goes on a relatively modest search for his wife, who was stolen by slave traders. A fight sequence inevitably ensues, once, twice and the couple is reunited. It is standard stuff; an originally executed age-old story.
There is nothing remarkable in the acting abilities of the cast either; it seems as if a group of friends got together and said, “Hey, you have a camera and I have a sketch of an idea. Let’s make a movie for fun.” But that’s just it — they did it for fun, for the pure sake of investing their time and energy into something they loved. You get the sense that the movie is only the briefest sketch of what was going on in the writers’ and producers’ minds. The tale is too wound up in their own imagination to be fully conveyed to an outsider, much like a dream that you find difficult to pin down upon waking up. What you have is only a shadow of the real thing. But there is heart — heart and an unadulterated imagination that is usually squashed before adulthood when the owner would finally have the resources and technological smarts to render it into tangible form.
Considering, too, that the budget was just $1,800 puts “Aurora” on a new level. The majority was likely spent on CG effects for the flying hot air balloon and bird’s-eye view of small towns, which were expectedly amateur. However the basic availability to the public proves that animation technology has reached a new milestone. Maybe this is what film needs: for the public to have relatively easy access to make their own movies so that we have works with less glitz and more imagination.
It’s necessary and proper to forget the boundaries of “normal” from time to time. Steampunk certainly doesn’t have the largest following, but those that do enjoy it are in full rapture. This can be evidenced even by Teague’s own actions: her conference Upstate Steampunk (the only one of it’s kind in South Carolina) is being held Sept. 30 and has drawn participants from all over the United States from as far as Michigan. Information about Upstate Steampunk can be found at www.upstatesteampunk.com. It goes to show that in our society, despite all of its progress, there is still so much yet to be explored.
Article source: http://www.thetigernews.com/news.php?aid=7127&sid=4