[Atompunk] Atompunk: substance or surface?
mike at burnlab.net
Tue Dec 9 06:56:43 CET 2008
Thanks for brining this up. It's a really important point.
I think that since Atompunk doesn't so much exist yet [at least not on
the same level Steampunk does,] so far most of us are just getting
our aesthetic bearings on it and sharing reference images to that end.
The next place I think this list should go is to explore the meaning
behind the images. That will lead us to new work and new ideas and a
better understanding of the period - refracted through the lens of the
The era we're talking about is so loaded with really freaking intense
psychological undercurrents, it's incredibly fertile material to work
with. Otherwise it's just formalist masturbation - which I doubt any
of us have much interest in. The outsider perspective we'll naturally
put on it through our 21st Century lens should give it the "-punk"
twist that will take it beyond a historical retrospective and make it
Some of us vividly remember the atmosphere of the cold war, and some
were too young at the time - and there's no doubt there are very
different perspectives from those living North America to those living
in Western Europe, to those living in Eastern Europe, Asia and
elsewhere. Thats part of what's so awesome about this group.
This is simply my opinion, but I think we should keep up with the
visual references, but also start talking more about what Atompunk
represents beyond aesthetics. Unlike Steampunk, there is a personal
memory element here that can guide us to very interesting places. We
may come up with some stunningly original visuals and ideas when we
dig into those neglected little corners of the mind.
I don't exactly know what the end goal is for the GOGBOT team, but for
one week, I think this list is off to a great start!
P.S. Great poem. Love the "fishbone in the city's throat" image!
On Dec 8, 2008, at 5:33 PM, Nathan at Twofish wrote:
> There are undoubtedly a lot of aesthetic influences to draw from in
> this period, a period we've labeled 'Atompunk' (is it capitalised or
> not??). This is what we appear to have concentrated on so far. (Is
> that fair to say?)
> Here is my real interest, though: what do you guys think of, what I
> guess we could call, the 'paranoia/confidence' complex of the era? A
> division that arguably characterised the Cold War East/West split of
> our chosen era: but a division that was fluid (each side slipping
> from hope to fear, and then back again, all the time).
> How does this inform the 'cultural production' of the era – as
> horrible a phrase as that is – and how much does that impact on our
> reconsideration of this stuff?
> This is what I'm thinking: between the futurism of Sputnik, and the
> telling over-confidence of the US car design industry, sits someone
> like Robert Lowell – his American poems of 'figures of bravado
> ossified young'...
> How do we react to the writers of the era? I'd love to hear your
> thoughts on the piece below. I'm thinking out loud here, but while
> it should arguably be an aesthetically loose thing, if we are
> interested in anchoring 'Atompunk' somewhere – this seems like a
> good starting point. (What's the legacy, etc.?) I guess my question
> is: is this just an aesthetic we're dealing with (interested in); or
> is it not only that, but also something more...? This propels else
> to somewhere new, personally speaking.
> For the Union Dead
> by Robert Lowell
> "Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam."
> The old South Boston Aquarium stands
> in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
> The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
> The airy tanks are dry.
> Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;
> my hand tingled
> to burst the bubbles
> drifting from the noses of the cowed, compliant fish.
> My hand draws back. I often sigh still
> for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom
> of the fish and reptile. One morning last March,
> I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized
> fence on the Boston Common. Behind their cage,
> yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting
> as they cropped up tons of mush and grass
> to gouge their underworld garage.
> Parking spaces luxuriate like civic
> sandpiles in the heart of Boston.
> A girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders
> braces the tingling Statehouse,
> shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw
> and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry
> on St. Gaudens' shaking Civil War relief,
> propped by a plank splint against the garage's earthquake.
> Two months after marching through Boston,
> half the regiment was dead;
> at the dedication,
> William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe.
> Their monument sticks like a fishbone
> in the city's throat.
> Its Colonel is as lean
> as a compass-needle.
> He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
> a greyhound's gentle tautness;
> he seems to wince at pleasure,
> and suffocate for privacy.
> He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man's lovely,
> peculiar power to choose life and die--
> when he leads his black soldiers to death,
> he cannot bend his back.
> On a thousand small town New England greens,
> the old white churches hold their air
> of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
> quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic.
> The stone statues of the abstract Union Soldier
> grow slimmer and younger each year--
> wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets
> and muse through their sideburns . . .
> Shaw's father wanted no monument
> except the ditch,
> where his son's body was thrown
> and lost with his "niggers."
> The ditch is nearer.
> There are no statues for the last war here;
> on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph
> shows Hiroshima boiling
> over a Mosler Safe, the "Rock of Ages"
> that survived the blast. Space is nearer.
> When I crouch to my television set,
> the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.
> Colonel Shaw
> is riding on his bubble,
> he waits
> for the blessèd break.
> The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,
> giant finned cars nose forward like fish;
> a savage servility
> slides by on grease.
> Atompunk mailing list
> Atompunk at antenna.nl
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