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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Back to the future at Steampunk Con


    Courtesy of Kimberly Paul / Wild Wild West Con

    Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention goers shake hands at the 2014 installment of the annual event held at Old Tucson by the Arizona Steampunk Society. This year’s steampunk-themed convention will be held Friday through Sunday.

    Steampunk is taking over Old Tucson this weekend at the Wild Wild West Con 4 Steampunk Convention and Festival. Steampunk artists, fanatics and novices will come together to celebrate the science fiction/fantasy subgenre and the community that embraces it.

    Steampunk is a type of artistic genre based on a Victorian Era perception of the future. In this era, steam power was the pinnacle of technology, so if someone from that time period were to imagine what the future would look like, steam power would be central to their vision. Flying vehicles, artificially intelligent robots and other futuristic technologies were imagined to one day be powered by steam. The term “steampunk” was coined in 1985 by author Kevin Wayne Jeter when describing the genre of his and his fellow subgenre authors’ novels.

    This perception of the future has obviously not taken hold in contemporary society, as we have developed electricity and other forms of energy in place of steam power, making steampunk a hybrid of the future and the past. The genre began in books and films but has made its way into 2-D and 3-D art, fashion, engineering, music and even lifestyles for some.

    “I really like the aesthetic of retrofuturism,” said Chloe Loos, sophomore studying film and television and theatre. “Steampunk’s interesting to me, because it’s more utopian and positive [than other subgenres], but it can also have a dark side.”

    The steampunk community has been present in Tucson for many years through the Arizona Steampunk Society. The organization holds gatherings throughout the year for steampunk enthusiasts to meet and share ideas, and the group eventually decided to hold an annual convention.

    The backdrop for steampunk is often either the Victorian Era or the American West, since both societies heavily utilized steam power. So, the AZSPS decided to host its convention at Old Tucson. The recreated Western town and theme park fit the steampunk aesthetic better than the typical hotel ballroom or convention center where other steampunk gatherings are often held. The theme of this year’s show is mad scientists, so most panels and events will have some elements tying into that concept.

    “It’s a huge variety of different things all centered around our mad scientist theme and the notion of steampunk,” said Jason Drotman, the co-owner and operations director of the convention.

    Drotman has been involved with the festival since its first year in 2011 as the director of marketing. The convention skipped a year in 2012, and a second convention was hosted the year after. Drotman took co-ownership starting in the third year with fellow co-owner and director of entertainment Diana Given.

    This year’s convention is scheduled to be packed with events, panels, vendors, contests and more between Friday and Sunday. From 10 a.m.-6 p.m. throughout the weekend, there will be over 80 panels and workshops; over 60 vendors, various performers and artists; a fashion show; children’s activities and special guests.

    Two nighttime concerts featuring various steampunk bands will be held today and Saturday and have already sold out. As there are many events to choose from, attendees should check out the online schedule before visiting in order to find out what to view.

    The convention is open to seasoned steampunk lovers and curious newcomers alike, and one- and three-day convention passes are available online at a discounted price and at the door.

    “Steampunk has something for everybody,” Given said.

    Given’s favorite aspect of the convention is seeing the various costumes that people create and wear, but she also emphasized that costumes are not required, and those new to the steampunk scene need not worry about their attire.

    “If you’re new to steampunk or just curious about steampunk, come on and check it out,” Given said.


    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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