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Steampunk and Surrealism.. just go together

If you’re not on my list of friends, or followers on any of my feeds. then chances are you are coming in for Artprize related things, have seen us on […]

If you’re not on my list of friends, or followers on any of my feeds. then chances are you are coming in for Artprize related things, have seen us on the news, or just stumbled upon this page – and you may not quite know what “steampunk” is.

In a nutshell, Steampunk is a return to the days when people were familiar with the technology they used, nearly intimate… but not in any sort of naughty or profane way… I am sure there is another name for that…

… but what I am talking about: Those times when something broke, the owner knew how to fix it. If the part was broken, they knew who to go to to have the part made, if they didn’t make it themselves. Everything was quality: quality materials, quality craftsmanship; The things you owned, if they broke (which was far less likely), you fixed them, because they were just that awesome… nice wood, bits of brass or steel… every part, every gear, every cog, crafted with pride and often decorative for no good reason other than to say “I made this, and I did a fantastic job of it”.

On the flip side of using old technologies, familiarizing ourselves with them, revisiting old inventions and designs that were unsuccessful perhaps due to a lack of the proper materials or support technologies – is familiarizing ourselves with the technologies of today, on the same level that people were once familiar with the technologies of their day.

We splice, we cut, we reprogram e-proms, we wire in computers or computer parts for controls… maybe powered by a sterling engine, or an 1800’s-style solar energy, or a gasinator, or whatever the heck we can make out of a bucket of discarded scrap and some broken antiques… we use, and re-use *everything*. Ours is a culture of reliability, sustainability, eco-conscious, and an opposite to the modern day way of throwing away what is broken or discarding anything that is more than three weeks old for the next new thing… another piece of plastic, old the day it is unboxed.

But again, it is about quality, pride, and ingenuity…

Which is much like any good painting or other artwork…

Art should focus is on quality and craftsmanship… like the paintings of our  beloved eras, where people actually cared about what they were doing: from the canvas chose, the gesso layered, into the pigments picked and mixed by hand – with great attention to detail and every detail about the details.

… That sort of realism and attention to detail one would expect of John Singer Sargent – and other proud artisans- from those days before everyone grew up expecting to be a celebrity or famous… without any required effort or skill… the age of entitlement, and this “the Emperor Has No Clothes” mode of assessing and promoting art in order to satisfy the sort of fast-food way that has filtered into every aspect of life and business.

No paint dumps here, no splotchy works painted with various unspeakable body parts, no sob story, or heartwarming tale, or intriguing title to make up for lack of work or imagination… skill, and attention to quality are  essential.

In this, there is something incredible quite about seeing a real-world object recreated perfectly with pen or pencil or in paint – yet… quite incredible considering that such images used to be done entirely from eye or from memory… but we live in the age of cameras and scans and enlargements – which not only renders realism tedious and completely unnecessary, but somewhat lackluster and less than special these days. These days, there isn’t much point in having a perfect pencil drawing of en existing object, when it could be photographed, and likely was photographed before the drawing.

Surrealism, is applying the actual skills of old, while going above and beyond to create images of things that do not, did not, might not ever exist, and pushing one step further towards “cannot” for those who apply themselves. In effort, and application, it excels to be something beyond mere abstract and beyond realism.

There is that exciting spirit of inventiveness and imagination, combined with the traditional dedication to hard work that was once the mark of artisans, artists, and craftsmen – seeking to make the unreal real, or at least seemingly likely if only in its own self-contained and self-made world. For this reason alone I feel it fits remarkably well with the genre, which based in speculative fiction, both requires and inspires these sorts of works.

Steampunk, craftsmanship and pride in work aside, is about imagining and re-imagining – looking at the future through the eyes of the past, and vise-versa – to create something bold and new, plausible, perhaps even possible – mixed with a wonderful touch of impossibility and improbability – the subculture in itself is a sort of surrealism – more than merely fantasy, bound to science, history, practical knowledge, self-reliability, and sustainability- it ties the real to the unreal, tangible and intangible – and inspires us to dream the impossible, while exploring the very fringe of possibility.

Our project, is in the spirit of steampunk and in the spirit of surrealism. Fantastical in nature, and tedious in its crafting. Bordering on impossible and improbable from the very beginning stages… yet certain to happen. do or die. Everything from the painting itself, to the structure it is painted on, to the structure surrounding it, and the engines powering it, embodies this spirit… the best woods, the best primers, the best paints, and painstaking effort in every detail from the planning up…

I am very proud to be a part of this project, and do hope you come out to see it between the 21st and the 28th. I also ask you to take the time to register to vote (at a number of official Artprize hubs throughout downtown), and vote for our project. Voting is highly important to this contest – and the beauty of this contest is that it allows the people to decide what is art, what isn’t what is good, and what they would like to see more of.

Hopefully ours is a project that leaves you wanting to see more from us. I feel it will be, we’ve worked very hard to make it so.

Thank you for supporting us, and for your interest and participation, this has been a wonderful experience already,

Myke Amend

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News, Helpers Wanted, Sponsorships available

We’re back from our guest showing at this year’s Maker Faire Detroit, and it was a blast, of heat and relentless Sun… but we also had a blast there.

Infernal Team - Myke Amend, Todd Cahill, Dave Braun

The Infernal Crew - Myke Amend, Todd Cahill, Dave Braun - Photo taken by our friends at The Steampig Experiment

Maker Faire made for the perfect opportunity for we artists to meet up in person, exchange parts, take measurements, and make pans for the final build – and we met a lot of wonderful people there; Many which were about as enamored as we were with Todd’s beautiful work on his wind capturing device.

Todd Cahill's Wondrous Wind Device

Todd Cahill's Wondrous Wind Device at Maker Faire Detroit

I brought the outer shell the drum with me, and the early prototype, so as show the general scale of this thing to onlookers and teammates alike, but with the high winds and without the proper frame built yet. Plans to piece it together temporarily were set aside in order to avoid damaging it.

We saw hulking fire breathing mechanical dragons, bikes disguised as giant cupcakes, the beautiful stage setup  of Theater Bizarre, antique traction motors and other farm machinery, and so many wonderful gadgets and inventions – many of which being piloted around the event.

Below: Todd Cahill talks some about the Wind Device, which will be at the very top of our huge kinetic sculpture. Sorry about all the wind in the microphone, but if you can’t hear Todd, you can still follow his hand movements…

Now we are back into full swing preparing for Artprize. Dave has the base structure completed in Kokomo Indiana, we have the wind device safely tucked away  at Van’s Delivery Service, and I have the drum *mostly* assembled – another day or so and the building part of it should be *mostly* done.

 

Dave - Framing the base structure

Dave - Framing the base structure

We will however need urgently to start fund raising again in order to stay on target, this will include fund-raising parties and picnics, selling more wares here on our store, and maybe a little bit of passing around the hat in order to get those last little things we need, and to ensure that all of our team members and parts will be able to converge on Grand Rapids over the following weeks to meet at Van’s Delivery Service for the pre-build, and to bring the machine finally to its Artprize venue: The Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum.

We will also need a *lot* of help – from street  teamers, to event organizers, to helpers with painting – and hopefully some of those things that will make this come together a *lot* more smoothly.

Supports for Drum

The Supports for the drum which will be the 21-foot spinning mural.

We would *really* like to find some great companies or teams who do:

– Painting on large scale… auto painting companies to repaint the wind devce all nice and new, outdoor painting contractors to do the base painting on the drum and the structure

– Paint suppliers to help us with the incredible amount and assortment of paint that this will take

– Suppliers of art supplies, for the art paints needed and brushes and other assorted supplies

– Hardware stores for all the extra bits and pieces, and to ensure we have what we need on hand at build time.

– Lumber suppliers for those last little bits of lumber we will need – and some carpentry help on hand would be greatly appreciated.

– Metal fabricators to help us with the two 8 foot diameter and 1 foot tall cylinders we will need for the footer and cap of the mural.

– PR help to keep our press and momentum going, and to help us regain what slipped when we were in such heavy work mode.

– Artists – student or professional – Yep. I wanted to be painting this thing in June, but having to cover the last month’s worth of work and parts and travel out of our own pockets, and being the only person wrangling this huge 7-sided construction job… the drum is only just now reaching completion. I can finish it by September… but with some skilled painters to help out, we can finish it even better, make more out of it.

The Kokomo Arts Association, a 501(c)3, is helping us and there to collect whatever gift cards, supplies, parts, or donations of cash we can get. If your company is interested in partnering with us in this way, or if you know someone who might be  – please contact us via our contact page: http://infernaldevice.net/Artprize/contact/ – in return we can offer your logo on our banners, our web site, and our promotional materials – as well as inclusion in our postings, tweets, facebook updates, and elsewhere – PLUS the opportunity to be a part of something huge and positive.

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COOTIES

Well, it looks like I am devoting myself this year to finally finishing up my children’s book – but for now, I am working really hard at making our kickstarter […]

Well, it looks like I am devoting myself this year to finally finishing up my children’s book – but for now, I am working really hard at making our kickstarter successful.

We are beyond dedicated to making this happen… so much so that I stayed up all day and night putting this special drawing together (image below), which will be available in printable PDF format exclusively to everyone who donates $1 or more though our Kickstarter.

A $2 purchase of a good piece of fine art paper from your local craft store, plus this download, and you’ll have this silly piece of my steampunk storybook for your wall… $3 total investment, and no shipping.

We’ve also received an unpublished text by G.D. Falksen to add to our kickstarter offers: An Original Never-before Published Exclusive Short Story by award winning author G.D Falksen; You get a hard copy of the short story in a binder, decorated with exclusive print by Myke Amend (an illustration of the story within) – each illustrated cover HAND EMBELLISHED, numbered, and signed… making for a *very unique* work of literature and art combined.

Other offers include everything from exclusive prints from me, the Airships and Tentacles Coloring Book, the Airships and Tentacles Scrapbooking kit, Original Paintings, and other incredible offers as *much* less than regular price…

We’ve had some good fortune this week, blogged by Warren Ellis, tweeted by Neil Gaiman and Kyle Cassidy, you may have seen us mentioned by Vernian Process, Abney Park, Nancy Overbury, and other greats… who we will be sure to mention more in depth when we compile our big list of People Last Against the Wall…

Please help us to keep this momentum going. 7 days remain, and we are nearly 30% there. Your donation of $1, retweeting, reblogging, or otherwise spreading the word of this project can put us over that hill.

Cooties - Available only through our kickstarter

Cooties - Available only through our kickstarter (click to enlarge)