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Archive for Sunday, September 20, 2009

Steampunk focus of Salina art show

September 20, 2009

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— Steampunk art combines past and present technology; artist Rich Bergen will feature the unique art at his studio.

When President Barack Obama presented an iPod to Queen Elizabeth II, it looked like any other iPod.

But what would such a device have looked like had it been President Abraham Lincoln presenting a music-playback device to Queen Victoria?

And what would that 19th century queen’s television device have looked like? And, in some alternate reality, might duels have been settled by giant ray guns?

Welcome to the world — or worlds — of “steampunk,” a movement that brings together artists and geeks who create artifacts of futures that never quite were.

Salina’s first steampunk art show opens Oct. 1 at Bergen Studio as part of the monthly First Thursday Art Rush downtown, and will run through the month of October.

Still not sure what steampunk is?

Rich Bergen suggests taking a look at the props and sets in movies such as “Wild Wild West,” “Brazil,” or the 1960s films based on the fiction of Jules Verne or H.G. Wells.

It involves creating a world in which Victorian-era style — lots of brass and other ornamentation, for example — combines with some take on modern technology. Imagine, for example, your desktop computer with a brass case, and perhaps even claw feet.

Bergen only discovered the style about a year ago, when his sister mentioned it to him, and he looked it up on Google.

Right after, he made a Halloween costume in the steampunk style, and decided to expand on it with a show this year.

He’s asking anyone in the area who wants to display his or her own steampunk creations in the show to bring them to the studio by Sept. 28.

Realizing steampunk isn’t widely known, Bergen doesn’t plan to be very picky about what gets into the show.

“It’s anybody’s interpretation,” he said. “If you think it’s steampunk, bring it down.”

Bergen himself is busy creating several pieces for the show, and piles and boxes of brass gears and springs and other spare parts cover a table at the back of his downtown workshop.

One is a bicycle, to which he’s attached a gas engine.

“I would have liked to have a small steam engine for it, but I couldn’t find anything,” he said.

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