Tate at Pentimenti: Steampunk
Last night I went to see my good friend's Tim Tate make his Philadelphia solo gallery debut at Philly's Pentimenti Gallery. Since the show was installed a few days ago, a review has already come out and art critic R. B. Strauss of the Philadelphia Weekly Press already has a superb review of the start of the new art season and writes about Tate:
"Video Reliquaries: A Look Inside a Digital Mind" yields tight surprises by Tim Tate. What is this artist? Sculptor, videographer, glass artist? Why all three, of course.Strauss set of new eyes looking at Tate's latest work does indeed reveal a new and really appropriate label for Tate's work: Steampunk!
Various handmade glass vessels, like weird scientific instruments of well over a hundred and fifty years ago, contain tiny video monitors. Because of the work’s old feel, it resonates as steampunk, a thread of science fiction where the Victorian impetus holds fast a greater melancholy than we had, amid a strangely alien technology.
Indeed, the overall Victorian feel here is only partly deliberate, as this is not our Victorian era but one of a parallel or alternate universe that could be fascist, with the monitors spy devices, and with the lenses feeding them everywhere.
Of course! Steampunk!
According to the New York Times,steampunk is
"a subculture that is the aesthetic expression of a time-traveling fantasy world, one that embraces music, film, design and now fashion, all inspired by the extravagantly inventive age of dirigibles and steam locomotives, brass diving bells and jar-shaped protosubmarines. First appearing in the late 1980s and early ’90s, steampunk has picked up momentum in recent months, making a transition from what used to be mainly a literary taste to a Web-propagated way of life.And, without ever attempting to enter this retro-futurism movement, clear new critical eyes hit the nail on the head with they label Tate's new works as an unplanned new member of this movement.
To some, “steampunk” is a catchall term, a concept in search of a visual identity. “To me, it’s essentially the intersection of technology and romance,” said Jake von Slatt, a designer in Boston and the proprietor of the Steampunk Workshop (steampunkworkshop.com), where he exhibits such curiosities as a computer furnished with a brass-frame monitor and vintage typewriter keys.
That definition is loose enough to accommodate a stew of influences, including the streamlined retro-futurism of Flash Gordon and Japanese animation with its goggle-wearing hackers, the postapocalyptic scavenger style of “Mad Max,” and vaudeville, burlesque and the structured gentility of the Victorian age. In aggregate, steampunk is a trend that is rapidly outgrowing niche status."
See a short video of the opening below: