Craft & Design
Get ready for Circus punk

Make Pt0987
Some folks are declaring Steampunk dead, I never thought it was that “alive” or that popular to begin with outside a very small group… only that there were (and are) a lot of interesting projects with high quality implementations all making their bedut in the last year or so. Unlike other genres Steampunk, when executed well, requires a ton of work, milling, brass, engineering – it really is “technology and romance” — so with all that being said I’m willing to say that maybe tech blogs out there are getting tired of Steampunk, so I’d like to introduce what I think will be next “Circus punk” – it’s like Steampunk in some ways, but it’s a bit more colorful, more freaky human elements involved, side show cyber freaks, creepy clowns, bicycles, puppets, lots of human powered things, lots of craft costumes with tons of stripes (and top hats). More of an evolution of Steampunk, not really a revolution. The only real evidence I have is more and more techies and makers taking circus training classes, likely to trickle to projects soon.

Check back here in a year and see if I guessed correctly! It’s either that or “Space noir” or as I like to call it “Space goth”…

Pictured here, Cycle Circus from Maker Faire Austin.

18 thoughts on “Get ready for Circus punk

  1. Sounds like burning man without the drugs or politics. Although, burning man these days is burning man without the drugs or politics.

  2. Steam punk – The art of adding far too many useless, non-functional components for aesthetic reasons only.

    Ooh, look at my laptop, it’s got fake stationary gears and empty pipes all over it! Wow, it looks even better through these old aviation goggles…

    But I’m sure Circus Punk will be a worthwhile fad.

  3. No. Just, no.

    Steampunk as an aesthetic is not sustainable (neither is circus punk or whatever) because it’s just a look — a superficial homage. It’s not a real way of life. The fun of steampunk doesn’t click because their is no functionality. If people want to hybridize technologies of today and those of the industrial revolution in a truly functional way, I say: good luck — Do you even know how to make a real gear? Do you know what torque really is? Oh, and that painted-on gear doesn’t count. No one ever wanted to paint a gear on. What good would that have done? There would be an empty experience, disconnected. Like Epcot. Like the bones left over from a rotting corpse, carved and decorated with its original living image. Mechanical ideas need to be developed from first principles — of physics, of nature, of the machine.

    Cyberpunk actually has a real identity in life: people use computers! Computers are useful! They do work! There is something wonderful about mastering them. It’s got attitude (hence the “punk”). Unfortunately, they get put in stupid cases out of visual context, like, a shoebox, or an old geography globe or something. Or an etched, brass-trimmed box. Yeah, that makes sense sitting next to your fake chrome and plastic toaster box.

    Circuspunk will never be anything more than another stupid postmodern mashup fad using real aesthetics of an old way of life. Unless some people want to quit their job and leave for a circus with its glorious bright-on-sepia colors and ratty tents, training horses and practicing acrobatics. Then, maybe they’ll get a wow. Of a very different kind. You know, there are plenty of modern circus shows already. Do I even need to name them?

    I NOW DECLARE ROMANPUNK TO BE IN! DRESS IN TOGAS! EMBED RFID READERS IN YOUR GLADII! LET US HOST DEATHMATCHES WITH ANIMALS (ROBOTIC)! LET US WRITE MEANINGLESS LATIN PHRASES ON OUR BLOG! LET US VISIT THE PAST! IN DISNEYVISION!

    What a joke.

  4. @ Dastardly Dan:
    Ok, hold on there with the steampunk hating – I don’t think you’re being fair, and you’re certainly being curmudgeonly. I’ve seen way too much of that on this site, and I’m tired of it. You’re judging the entire concept of “steampunk” by the worst elements of it. Yes, people gluing gears onto things are stupid. The mechanical engineer in me cries when I see those projects, and starts looking for razor blades when all the people on the forums act like it’s the greatest advance in technology they’ve ever seen. Nevertheless, I like steampunk, for the simple reason that when you get beyond the gears-and-glue people, you see some really impressive stuff. Personally, I think there are two things that make steampunk, when properly understood, genuinely worthwhile – an appreciation for craftsmanship, and a sense of optimism and love of science and engineering. I see both of those things in some of the work done by people like Jake Von Slatt, among many others.

    Now, you may not like things like that – I know you don’t like the idea of putting computers “out of context” in brass and wood cases. But I don’t think it’s either fake or stupid to want the things you use every day to be more attractive, and not everyone has to like the shiny plastic and chrome look. Would you consider someone to be stupid or putting things out of context if they buy antique furniture for their living room, just because they like the way it looks?

    Frankly, I just don’t like the tone of your comment, and of comments I’ve seen like yours. Where the hell is your sense of whimsey, or at least your tolerance for people who might not share your aesthetic views? And P.S., what’s up with the stuff about Epcot? What exactly did you expect, that they would be stoning adulterers in the Morocco section? There is a place for escapism and fantasy in the world. Should you let it take over your life? No. Have some of the people who call themselves “Steampunks” let that happen? Probably, yes. But that doesn’t mean that we should just dismiss anything that calls itself steampunk as worthless, and we should certainly have some respect for people with genuine talent and artistic vision, regardless of the medium they choose to work in.

  5. Dastardly Dan…
    i have many friends who are “clown punks”
    whom most of which are train riding traveling clowns and do practice acrobatics and juggling all of the time and preform on street corners in citys to make a living. and hobo clowns (which evolved into clown punks) have been around for a very long time. it is a functioning way of life clowns have a part in peoples every day life they are entertainment, this is completly functional

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