Steampunk has been described as a “step sideways in time.” It’s certainly not a regressive subculture- one peek at the kinds of clockwork corsetry and hydraulics operated moving machines that steampunk tinkerers fashion will convince you of that- but rather, a rethinking of where technology could have led us. It’s a topic that’s figuring prominently in the minds of many these days, which means this year’s New Albion Steampunk Exhibition (begins Fri/12) promises to be more whiz-bang than ever.
Picture, if you will, a mass of punks and nonconventional individuals in Victorian garb and laboriously created wings, monocles, wrist weaponry and whatnot, all milling about to waltz music in a very conventional hotel convention space. Surely, unsuspecting squares of Emeryville will be freaked.
Three tracks will guide tinkerers through the exhibition; one for DIY-ers, one for those with an ear for scholarly discussions of steampunk and another that focuses on the give-and-take of expert panel discussions on the culture. Participants can also pick and choose among the bounty- after all, who could miss discussions on steampunk philosophy featuring the movement’s great literati, James Blaylock? Or a rundown of the history of man powered submarines, classes on leather working, the regal history of steampunk, a panel who will dissect and illuminate “steampunk garb for life on a budget,” a look at the observatory as “science temple”, a museum of curiousities? Impossible, you must go to all.
After the learning, ballrooms galas and drink and meets will keep participants busy, just like at any other convention. Well, except for the fact that this gala will include prizes for the “most workable wearable invention” and meet and greets will center around self propelled three story Victorian houses and feature drinks served by robots.
Just a simple step sideways, really.
Now Albion Steampunk Exhibition
Fri/12 (through Sun/14), $20-50
Hilton Garden Inn
1800 Powell, Emeryville