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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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New Shirt Design

Well, actually it is an improvement and upgrade on the previously proposed tee shirt design. Now that we’re ready to go to production on these, I started off doing some […]

Well, actually it is an improvement and upgrade on the previously proposed tee shirt design. Now that we’re ready to go to production on these, I started off doing some graphical cleanup and decided it would be cooler if the shirts were two sided and had fancier text on them.

I’m catching up from the kickstarter – having sent out files and orders for all elated prints, the coloring books, the downloads and other rewards we offered – the limited edition tee shirts for the kickstarter were needing some rework before final printing, so I decided to go ahead and rework these as well – so I could order all of them at the same time.

If you have already ordered shirts, you might notice that the new price is a dollar more – don’t worry, you’ll be getting your shirts for the price you paid.

All shorts ordered up to now, or ordered now, should be ready to ship on or around the 15th of June. So, if you are reading this after then, they are already to ship.

These will be sold until this batch of 50 or so shirts sells out, and then we’ll be introducing a one-sided design using the device as the large image on the front.

PURCHASE:
purchase link: http://infernaldevice.net/Artprize/store/fundraising/infernal-tee/

back:

front:

front (closeup):

back (closeup):

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We’ve Been Approved

Our Kickstarter was approved and launched yesterday, and you can find it here: Our KickStarter Page If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it is a perfect addition to our community […]

Our Kickstarter was approved and launched yesterday, and you can find it here: Our KickStarter Page

If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it is a perfect addition to our community project feel, in that it allows fellow art lovers to become a part of our project, while receiving rewards for their participation.

Gifts offered for donations starting as low as $1 begin at our sincere thanks, and go as high as being painted into the artwork itself – with many, many levels in between at $5, $10, etc…

If you do not have a dollar to pitch in at the moment, we completely understand, and would appreciate your help in simply forwarding on the link to others. All those little donations matter greatly, especially when friends and friends of friends are chipping in.

On a sidenote: If you would like to hep out in other ways, from donating junk from your garage, to being there for the hands-on work such as the build, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us through our contact form, linked at the top of this page.

What are some of the sorts of things we are looking for? Well, we’ll be getting a number of antique connecting rods from Ken and Helen of Model A Restorers (“Saving the Past for the Future” which is exactly in tune with our goals), we’re looking for cogs, gears, metal wheels, work gears, rack gears, hemisperical cup anemometers, axles, old metal light posts, bits of old phonographs, and really… pretty much anything that we can save from a scrap heap and turn into art. Here are some photos of pieces we’ve picked out, but haven’t yet acquired: