Tag Archives: aesthetic


Steampunk and dieselpunk : the cyborg aesthetic?

Steampunk and dieselpunk : the cyborg aesthetic?

Continuing my series of cross-posting from the old Tumblr-oo, these were my quick ramblings concerning the steampunk fashion. They have been modified as it was originally written over a year ago.
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Through the past year, I have been thinking about this subject quite often. I don’t why my head has constantly been jumping back to what I personally find an aesthetically pleasing genre: steampunk. Then, sometime around Christmas 2011, I realized that steampunk contains what the label cyborg aesthetic might actually be fitting.

Yes, we know, steampunk and dieselpunk are sci-fi genres. What could this ultimately mean to my whole cyborg work? Let’s face it, cyborgs in themselves were, until quite recently, sci-fi themselves. When you really think about it, so was science in general! It took a lot of imagination to come up with some of the researches and ideas scientists do and have.

(Addendum: having gone much further in my research than I had at the time this was originally written, I have changed my views on this. Cyborgs, from the idea of meshing human and non-organic materials, have existed for quite a long time. Indeed, there are 16th century artificial arms, one beautiful sample of these is in the Wellcome Collection. However, this all depends on how we define cyborgs, which is an area with which I am still tackling.)

My main idea here is what kind of potential consequences these sub-genres could have on the popular view of cyborgs. Fans of steampunk usually integrate some kind of mechanical limb (clockworks and all) to their bodies (see picture). Also, this genre seems to be filtering into our mass media, slowly but surely. Justin Biever actually made a steampunk influenced music video for Christmas 2011, and last year’s displays at Macy’s are full of clockworks.

Could this, eventually, have an influence on society’s take on cyborgs? Generally, people seem to shudder when they think of half-mechanical men, but could a large-scale diffusion of this genre’s popularity change that? I have often questioned the possibility of there being some kind of claim of pride over prosthetics, as I’ve often observed in Aimee Mullins’ TED talks (which I shall post in this space at a later date). It comes from a feeling of not having had a limb taken away, but more than that, having something <i>more</i> put in its place.

Possibilities are endless when it comes to the cyborg aesthetic. My header at the moment is a leg designed for Viktoria Modesta, which she proudly wears at galas. I think my point is that prosthetics are more than aides, replacements, limbs. They can go further than a genetic leg.

Photo Credit: Anton (skeep11 on DeviantArt)