Absintheum as Art

Monday, October 15, 2012

I posted this query back in August:

One thing I've been thinking about, that somewhat complicates the design, is that not only must the design actually work, it also has to look really cool while doing it!
That my friends is ART(tm) which I'm frankly lousy at cool
So my question to you all is this:
Is it better to come up with a practical workable design first and then decorate it?
Is it better to create the artistic design and then make the functional design fit that vision?
Keep in mind that I consider this machine to be as much a sculpture as it is a machine, but it still has to actually work.
My buddy Andrew replied:
I always find it is better to start with making sure the design is functional before you make it artistic ... because really anything can be considered art these days...
Plus there is that famous song that goes along the lines of just glue a gear on it wink
You can always add to the design too once it is fuctional to make it more visually appealing if you think it needs it
 Interesting, thanks Andrew.

For modern equipment I quite agree, because in today's world it is not so much designing a machine to work with a given material as it is designing materials to work with given machine design. Steampunk artifacts are different however, as the Steampunk aesthetic delights in displaying the workings themselves. It is as much about how the machine does its job as it is what it looks like (think Rube Goldberg in brass).

For me personally the most interesting Steampunk artifacts are those that actually do things, and can be seen to be doing them. The hand cranked wine pourer being one of my favourites.

The vast majority of Steampunk things are not like this, they are an aesthetic gloss over an otherwise mundane mechanism or object. The reworked Nerf pistol as Steampunk Ray Gun is probably the archetypal example. In this case 'just glue some gears on it' seems to be the way to go biggrin Since we don't have real ray guns, jet-packs or mechanical appendages, this isn't really a problem. We don't actually have a choice if we want to have one of these gadgets to liven up our outfits.

However since the Absinthium is to be more like the Wine Pourer than the Ray Gun, it seems to me that the Steampunk aesthetic needs to be 'baked in' from the start, if only to make sure that it is not simply a Steampunk cover for a modern machine. Also the very nature of the materials I would like to use to make this, will constrain the design to a certain extent.

Alas that also raises my original dilemma again, because the design process must try to cover both, the artistic and functional elements.

Perhaps if the materials are suitable, the artistic elements will fall out of a suitable design all by themselves. The beauty of the form will follow the elegance of the design/function.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Click here to see the other Absinthium posts.


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