Dieselpunk

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A example of dieselpunk art. Created by artist Stefan Prohaczka.[1]

Dieselpunk is a genre that combines the aesthetics of diesel-based technology influenced by the interwar period to the 1950s with futurist postmodern technology.[2][3] First coined in 2001 by game designer Lewis Pollak to describe his role-playing game Children of the Sun,[4] the term has since been applied to a variety of visual art, music, motion pictures, fiction, and engineering.[5]

Origin[edit]

The name "dieselpunk" is a derivative of the 1980s science fiction genre cyberpunk,[6] and is used to represent the time period - or "era" - from the interwar period until the 1950s, when diesel-based locomotion was the main technological focus of Western culture.[7] The "-punk" suffix attached to the name is representative of the counterculture nature of the genre with regards to its opposition of contemporary aesthetics. The term also refers to the tongue-in-cheek[8] name given to a similar cyberpunk derivative, "steampunk," which focuses on science fiction set within the Victorian era.[9]

The diesel era and decodence[edit]

Dieselpunk draws its inspiration from two related sources: the diesel era and a characteristic referred to as "decodence."[3] According the web site The Gatehouse, decodence (a portmanteau of "deco" and "decadence"), "embraces the styles and technologies of the era; it rejoices in a prolonged Jazz Age ambience characterized by great enthusiasm and hopes about the future."[10]

The term "diesel era" is a period of time that begins with the start of the interbellum era, which covers the time between the end of World War I and the start of World War II. The interbellum era is central to one school of dieselpunk often labeled "Ottensian." In addition to the interbellum period, World War II also plays a major role in dieselpunk, especially in the school of the genre referred to as "Piecraftian." (See "Common themes found in dieselpunk fiction", below.) The exact ending of the diesel era is in some dispute in the dieselpunk community. Depending on the source it ends either at the conclusion of World War II or continues until the early part of the 1950s with the advent of such cultural icons as the Golden Age of Television and the replacement of Big Band and Swing music with Rock and Roll in popularity.[citation needed]

Dieselpunk as an art movement[edit]

Although the term “dieselpunk” was not coined until 2001, a large body of art significant to the development of the genre was produced before that. Artwork (including visual arts, music, literature, and architecture) created in the dieselpunk style are heavily influenced by elements of the art movements most prevalent in Western culture during the diesel era such as:

Dieselpunk fiction and literature[edit]

Alternative history and World War II features prominently in dieselpunk literature. Examples of other dieselpunk novels are Tales of the First Occult War by Kevin Cooney, Fiends of the Eastern Front by David Bishop, and Hard Magic: Book 1 of the Grimnoir Chronicles by New York Times bestselling novelist Larry Correia.

Common themes[edit]

A feature that was first identified by the online magazine The Flying Fortress is that dieselpunk can be divided into two primary themes or styles: Ottensian and Piecraftian.[11] The dividing line between the two themes is commonly acknowledged as the start of World War II.[12]

One theme, named "Piecraftian" after its proponent author "Piecraft", focuses on the aesthetics of the world wars and speculates on how human culture could theoretically cease to evolve due to constant, widespread warfare.[4][11] According to Ottens and Piecraft this theme continues the aesthetics of the diesel era into later periods of history by describing a world where survival (largely based on a reliance on diesel power) is placed above aesthetical evolution (as seen in such dystopian movies as Mad Max[13]).

A second theme, named "Ottensian" after its proponent author Nick Ottens,[14] focuses on a setting where the decadent aesthetics and utopian philosophies of the American "Roaring Twenties" continued to evolve unhindered by war or economic collapse. Ottensian dieselpunk fiction is primarily concerned with a positive vision of technology, where the utopian ideals predicted by the World’s Fairs of the times came to light.[15] As a result Ottensian dieselpunk incorporates "an enthusiasm for the predictions about the future,"[16] and often shares elements with retro-futurism.[17]

Dieselpunk and the gaming industry[edit]

Dieselpunk features prominently in the gaming industry, in both tabletop role-playing games and computer and console video games.

Dieselpunk video game titles have been extremely prominent in recent years, with the success of the popular Final Fantasy VII, Fallout and BioShock series of games.[18] World War II is also a popular theme in dieselpunk games. One of the more prominent of these was Activision's Return to Castle Wolfenstein;[18] other games set in dieselpunk versions of the World War II era include Crimson Skies, Command & Conquer: Red Alert[18] and Turning Point: Fall of Liberty.[19] The companies of Digital Reality and Grasshopper are developing a shooter game called Sine Mora that has been described as Dieselpunk.[20]

Dieselpunk cinema[edit]

With regard to cinema, dieselpunk combines the tropes, character archetypes, and settings of diesel era fiction genres such as Serial Adventure, Noir,[21] Pulp, and War with postmodern storytelling techniques and cinematography. Some commonly referenced examples of dieselpunk cinema include: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,[22] Dark City, Rocketeer, the Indiana Jones movie series, Sin City, Brazil, Inglourious Basterds and Daybreakers.[23] The imagery of the movie Captain America: The First Avenger has been described as having a "dieselpunk quality."[24] Even the popular film Star Wars has been noted as having strong dieselpunk influences, as it drew heavily on pulp and World War II iconography but mixed them with futuristic settings.[25]

Famous inspirations for dieselpunk cinema include Metropolis and Things To Come, thanks to their period visions of utopian culture and technology.[3]

Though widely labeled as cyberpunk, the neo-noir movie Blade Runner may also be described as dieselpunk due its strong element of decodence.[26] Tim Burton's 1989 movie Batman has also been referenced as a dieselpunk movie.[15]

The 2011 film Sucker Punch directed by Zack Snyder includes dieselpunk-inspired adventures[27][28][29] with the lead role Babydoll and her team infiltrating a bunker protected by clockwork World War I German soldiers, etc., mixing many retro and sci-fi elements.

Dieselpunk visual art[edit]

According to online magazine Dark Roasted Blend, in an article titled "Dieselpunk: Love Affair with a Machine", dieselpunk art "takes an interest in various bizarre machines, full of esoteric levers, cracked-glass meters - all visually intense and pretty sinister-looking, when photographed."[30] The article references Japanese artist Shunya Yamashita having created one of the definitive examples of dieselpunk art with his work "I Can't Explain."[31] The article also references Kow Yokoyama as a dieselpunk artist with his figurine series titled "Maschinen Krieger."[32]

Other prominent artists in the dieselpunk movement include: Sam Van Olffen,[33][34][35] Keith Thompson,[36] Rob Schwager,[37] Stefan Prohaczka,[1] ixlrlxi,[38][39] and Alexey Lipatov.[40]

Dieselpunk as a subculture[edit]

A person defined as a dieselpunk draws inspiration and entertainment from the aesthetics of the diesel era to achieve independence from contemporary aesthetics by blending the literature, artwork, fashion, grooming styles, modes of personal transportation, music, and technology of the diesel era with contemporary sensibilities.

Part of dieselpunk's postmodern nature can be seen in the important role that the internet as a tool of international communication plays in its development. In addition to two prominent dieselpunk online communities, Dieselpunks[41] and The Gatehouse's "Smoking Lounge",[42] there are a growing number of online magazines dedicated to the genre including The Flying Fortress,[43] Dizelpanki[44] and several blogs which are simply titled "Dieselpunk".[45][46] Another active online magazine covering the dieselpunk movement is Vintage Future: Dieselpunk,[47] which describes itself as "Retro-futuristic resources from the golden era."

While there are many web sites dedicated to the history of the diesel era, there are a growing number of sites dedicated to topics that tie directly into dieselpunk. One such website of note is RetroTimes Production,[48] which is an independent film production company dedicated to creating documentaries about "retro living, retro design, and retro style." A few sites are springing up that have a retro pulp feel as well, including Captain Spectre and The Lightning Legion,[49] which is an online comic written and drawn in the classic serial pulp fiction style of the diesel era, and Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual,[50] an interactive Choose Your Own Adventure-style pulp serial.

Dieselpunk music[edit]

Dieselpunk music,[3] which has roots in the neo-swing revival,[51] combines elements of blues, jazz, ragtime, cabaret, swing, and bluegrass commonly found during the diesel era with contemporary instrumentation, production, and composition.[52] Some commonly referenced examples of dieselpunk bands are: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy,[53] Royal Crown Revue,[54][55] Squirrel Nut Zippers,[56] The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Indigo Swing, Wolfgang Parker,[51] The End Times Spasm Band, Big Rude Jake, and Lee Press-on and the Nails.[57]

Dieselpunk fashion[edit]

Dieselpunk fashion blends the styles commonly found during the diesel era with contemporary styles to create a fusion of both. The "punk" nature of the subculture comes from expressing a more complete presence in public akin to the fashion styles popular during the diesel era such as waistcoats, covered arms, hosiery, styles of shoes, and head wear to name a few. Dieselpunk emphasizes the inclusion of such accouterments to render one's look "complete," in defiance of modern custom.

Variants[edit]

Atompunk[edit]

A similar, related pop surrealist art movement, which overlaps with dieselpunk somewhat, is atompunk (sometimes called atomicpunk). Atompunk art relates to the pre-digital period of 1945-1965, including mid-century Modernism, the Atomic Age and Space Age, Communism and paranoia in the USA along with Soviet styling, underground cinema, Googie architecture, the Sputnik, Mercury and other early space programs, superhero fiction, the rise of the US military/industrial powers and the fall-out of Chernobyl.[58]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "stefanparis's Gallery". Stefanparis.deviantart.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  2. ^ Eve M. Kahn (2011-07-21). "Penitentiary Restores Prisoner’s Biblical Murals". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  3. ^ a b c d Aja Romano (2013-10-08). "Dieselpunk for beginners: Welcome to a world where the '40s never ended". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  4. ^ a b 'Piecraft'; Ottens, Nick (July 2008), "Discovering Dieselpunk", The Gatehouse Gazette (Issue 1): page 3, retrieved 2010-05-23 
  5. ^ Krzysztof, Janicz (2008). ""Chronologia dieselpunku" (in Polish)". 
  6. ^ Dellamonica, A.M. (09/08/09). "Cyberpunk, steampunk and now stitchpunk? Your guide to 11 sci-fi punks". Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  7. ^ DW Productions. "A History of the Diesel Engine". Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  8. ^ Sheidlower, Jesse (March 9, 2005). "Science Fiction Citations". Retrieved May 10, 2008. 
  9. ^ Falksen, GD (October 7, 2009). "Steampunk 101". Tor.com. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  10. ^ "Decodence". The Gatehouse. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  11. ^ a b themes (June 4, 2008). "The Dark Side of Dieselpunk". Flying Fortress. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  12. ^ 'Piecraft'; Ottens, Nick (July 2008), "Discovering Dieselpunk", The Gatehouse Gazette (Issue 1): page 4, retrieved 2010-05-23 
  13. ^ 'Piecraft'; Ottens, Nick (July 2008), "Discovering Dieselpunk", The Gatehouse Gazette (Issue 1): page 9, retrieved 2010-05-23 
  14. ^ "Decodence". The Gatehouse. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  15. ^ a b 'Piecraft'; Ottens, Nick (July 2008), "Discovering Dieselpunk", The Gatehouse Gazette (Issue 1): page 7, retrieved 2010-05-23 
  16. ^ "The Two Flavors of Dieselpunk". The Gatehouse. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  17. ^ 'Piecraft'; Ottens, Nick (July 2008), "Discovering Dieselpunk", The Gatehouse Gazette (Issue 1): page 5, retrieved 2010-05-23 
  18. ^ a b c sinisterporpoise, edited & published by Michael Hartman (March 30, 2010). "Top 10 Steampunk and Dieselpunk Games for the PC". Bright Hub. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  19. ^ "Turning Point: Fall of Liberty". Codemasters.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  20. ^ Brian Ashcraft (August 4, 2011). "A Diesel-Punk Shoot’em Up? Sure, Why Not.". Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  21. ^ Conrad, Mark T. The Philosophy of Neo-Noir. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, February 2009, ISBN 0813191815
  22. ^ "Trivia for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-05-28. "While set in a "real" New York City, the history is obviously changed. The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Wuthering Heights (1939) references put the year at 1939. Despite being 1939, there is no sign of Germany preparing for war. There is also no sign that America is in the grips of an economic depression. All-in-all, not only is the technology "fantasized", but the entire history is idealized as well." 
  23. ^ seraphimish (February 14, 2010). "Daybreakers: Diesel Bloodsuckers". Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  24. ^ Neil Marcus, (07/21/11). "Captain America is hokey, pulpy fun ... no more, no less". Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  25. ^ Vincent Janoski (April 15, 2008). "Ancient Weapons and Hokey Religions: Steampunk Star Wars". Wired.com. Retrieved 2010-05-31. "It’s already pretty clear that Lucas was drawing from the dieselpunk styling of WWII..." 
  26. ^ Conrad, Mark T. (February 2009). The Philosophy of Neo-Noir. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813191815. 
  27. ^ Kitson, Lindsay (May 15, 2012). "6 Essential Dieselpunk Movies". Lindsay Kitson, Dieselpunk Author. 
  28. ^ Ojetade, Balogun (May 24, 2012). "PUNK 101: Steampunk, Dieselpunk and a Three Year Old Genius!". Chronicles of Harriet. 
  29. ^ The League of STEAM (April 7, 2011). "Episode 07: Dieselpunk!". S.T.E.A.M.Geeks Podcast. 
  30. ^ A. Abrams (December 14, 2008). "Dieselpunk: Love Affair with a Machine". Dark Roasted Blend. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  31. ^ Bowkett, Giles (2008-12-28). "Giles Bowkett: Shunya Yamashita: I Can't Explain". Gilesbowkett.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  32. ^ "Maschinen Krueger Home". Maschinenkrueger.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  33. ^ Wilson, Tome (2009-08-27). "INTERVIEW - Sam Van Olffen". Dieselpunks. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  34. ^ Lauren Davis (Jul 21, 2009). "WWII Leaders Get a Dieselpunk Makeover". io9.com. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  35. ^ "Art: WW2 Dieselpunk". The Awesomer. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  36. ^ Tome Wilson (June 4, 2009). "Icons of Dieselpunk: Keith Thompson, Mechnical [sic] Art Genius". Retrieved 2010-05-29. 
  37. ^ "robschwager.com". robschwager.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  38. ^ "600v on deviantART". 600v.deviantart.com. 2010-05-21. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  39. ^ Tome Wilson (July 9, 2009). "Icons of Dieselpunk: ixlrlxi, Master artist of the Streamline style". Retrieved 2010-05-29. 
  40. ^ "Lipatov on deviantART". Lipatov.deviantart.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  41. ^ "Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture". Dieselpunks. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  42. ^ Nick Ottens. "Smoking Lounge". Ottens.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  43. ^ "The Flying Fortress". Flyingfortress.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  44. ^ "Дизельпанки". Community.livejournal.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  45. ^ "Dieselpunk". Dieselpunk44.blogspot.com. 1915-08-29. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  46. ^ "Dieselpunk". Dieselpunks.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  47. ^ Rowan, Arthur S. "Vintage Future: dieselpunk". Vintage-future.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  48. ^ Tome Wilson (March 19, 2010). "Icons of Dieselpunk: Carmen Johnson of RetroTimes Productions". Retrieved 2010-05-29. 
  49. ^ Tome Wilson (July 31, 2009). "Icons of Dieselpunk: Pulp Artist / Creator Tom Floyd". Retrieved 2010-05-29. 
  50. ^ "Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual: Illustrated Interactive Fiction from Retropolis and Beyond". Thrilling-tales.webomator.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  51. ^ a b Tome Wilson (May 12, 2010). "Icons of Dieselpunk: Wolfgang Parker, Pioneer of Punk Swing". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  52. ^ "Radio Riel Dieselpunk Channel". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  53. ^ Larry (February 7, 2010). "Dieselpunk Music". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  54. ^ Kevin M. Williams (October 27, 1997). "Royal Crown Revue, the Penthouse Playboys and the Nicholas Barron Trio at the Cubby Bear". Chicago Sun-Times. Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  55. ^ Brett Stephens. "Interviews: Royal Crown Revue". Tom Magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  56. ^ "Squirrel Nut Zippers". Mammoth Records. Retrieved 2010-05-31. "Hot was an unexpected hit that placed the Zippers at the head of a retro-swing revival that they didn't understand, much less belong to. For one thing, they didn't really play Swing Music, per se. They played 'Hot Music,' a perpetually evolving, hybrid-stew of Southern roots traditions that one critic aptly tagged, '30s punk.'" 
  57. ^ Tome Wilson (January 28, 2010). "Icons of Dieselpunk: Brian Gardner of Swing Goth". Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  58. ^ Doctorow, Cory (December 3, 2008). "Atompunk: fetishizing the atomic age". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 

External links[edit]

  • "Dieselpunks": One of the first dieselpunk websites, Dieselpunks is a social networking site that includes sections on music, photos, artwork, and fashion.
  • DieselPunk entry on TVTropes.org, one of the best descriptions of the genre and a list of dieselpunk works.