Reverie Fair Magazine - Page 38

But everyone who looks at the final images seems to say, Steampunk. Why? Well, there was the hat that Nikki wore. There was the umbrella, clearly not a parasol, but that didn't seem to matter, especially when paired with Sasha's ruffled skirt. All of it just seemed to suggest she was waiting for a stagecoach to take her from Tombstone to San Francisco.

Steampunk embraces a longing for a past that never was. We are free to invent our relationship with an imaginary past using props and costumes. Today's Steampunk youth are just trying to show their creativity, to overcome the oppression of Common Core Standards and STEM education for a few hours. Funny thing, in the 1800s it was the creative elements of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math that were setting imaginations on fire.

These photos strike at something more, though. There is a Japanese concept called Wabi-sabi. Like so many other words or phrases from other cultures, it is difficult to translate into our American culture. An initial approach would be to use the Wikipedia definition of "a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection." When I'm trying to define Wabi-sabi, I say "a reverence for old things" knowing I'm not even in the ballpark, but standing outside the gates.

Richard Powell says in his book Wabi Sabi Simple, "[w]abi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

So we have these seemingly opposite concepts in the same frame. We stare and are transfixed by the models and their finery against the backdrop of decay, which awaits us all, even the models. If we look close enough and with an expansive view, we can see the beauty of it all.

Strayed, Cheryl. (2012). Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Vintage Books.

Powell, Richard R. (2004). Wabi Sabi Simple. Adams Media.