Rutland Herald: Steampunk fest news

Rutland Herald: Steampunk fest news

By Susan Smallheer

Posted May 6, 2015

Bruce Rosenbaum, “Steampunk Guru,” in Springfield Monday, says Springfield’s history of technology, invention and innovation is a perfect fit for steampunk.
SPRINGFIELD — Steampunk is perfect for Springfield.That was the message Monday from Bruce Rosenbaum, according to Sabrina Smith of Springfield, one of the organizers of the Vermont Steampunk Festival, which is slated for Springfield in early September.Rosenbaum is described as “The Steampunk Guru” by the Wall Street Journal and the “Steampunk Evangelist” by WIRED magazine. “This is the perfect city for Steampunk,” said Rosenbaum, who said he had toured the town since Sunday and stayed at the Hartness House Inn, with its famous telescope room.Rosenbaum defined Steampunk as “history plus art plus technology,” with a dose of innovation and creativity.Rosenbaum was the speaker at the Springfield Rotary Club’s weekly meeting at the Nolin Murray Center, and Rosenbaum said Springfield’s industrial legacy in the machine tool industry, and its many world-first inventions, was a good fit.“I’m here to tell you why you should care,” he said. Steampunk can allow the town to “look at the past and celebrate the past and inspire the future.”Rosenbaum said he got interested in antiques as a young boy, and his interest in old machinery was Steampunk in the making.His father’s favorite show when he was growing up was “The Wild Wild West,” which many consider a precursor to Steampunk, since the phrase really wasn’t coined until 1987, he said. “It’s James Bond in the Victorian aesthetic,” he said. The heroes of the show traveled by train, “plus all the modern conveniences.”But the combination of Victorian art and charm, with 20th century technology, Rosenbaum said, is quintessential Steampunk.

He said steampunkers are essentially “anti-plastic,” he said, “They want things to last forever.”

Rosenbaum was recently nominated for a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship for 2015 in Washington, D.C., and he showed the gathering several offices he had designed in Boston for architects and engineers incorporating old machinery. He and his wife founded a business called ModVic.

“Isn’t a gear the symbol of Rotary?” Rosenbaum asked. “Go Steampunk.”

After Rosenbaum’s presentation (he will return to lecture during the festival) Smith and fellow festival organizer Melody Reed said the festival was growing by leaps and bounds.

The biggest problem, they said, was they didn’t know yet how many people would be coming.

A “Tweed Ride and Picnic,” which Smith described as a bicycle excursion and picnic along the Toonerville Trail — everyone wears tweed, she said — will be held the last day of the festival, which will run from Sept. 11-13, with its headquarters at the Hartness House Inn.

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