Our week aboard the H.M.S. Chronabelle continues with Captain Mouse, a.k.a. Mouse Reeve. As an adventurer aboard the beloved airship, Captain Mouse elaborates upon the dissonance between modern and antiquated technology. I especially appreciate her fascination with the tangible, diy aspects of steampunk, myself the living production of a loving eye for detail.
The Steampunk Bible: What is your personal definition of Steampunk?
Captain Mouse: Steampunk is the result of taking Victorian technology, aesthetics, and ideas and reinventing them in light of modern technology, aesthetics, and ideas. Or possibly it is the other way around.
SPB: How long have you been involved/interested in Steampunk?
CM: I don’t think I could put an exact date on it. There are aspects of Steampunk that have always appealed to me in some form or another, and the subculture serves as more of a way to group and articulate these interests than to define them.
SPB: What differences do you see between now and when you started?
CM: The differences are mind-boggling, but all in my head. I don’t have anything resembling a concept of the Steampunk world outside of my direct perception. I’ve shifted away from the online community over time and gotten more interested in the technical maker side, but as someone who doesn’t like ice cream or extended sunshine, I hardly think I am indicative of any larger trends.
SPB: How did your crew come together?
CM: I found out about Steampunk from somewhere or other, told Lady Almira, found out she was a long-time Girl Genius reader, and it cascaded out from there. There was an appeal for each of us.
SPB: What is it about outdated technology – like dirigibles – that appeal to and inspire you?
CM: I take a special pleasure in the dissonance of modern and antiquated technology – it forces a person to look twice, and provides a basis and on which to reflect on our relationship with technology today. There is also something amazing about the mechanical. The ubiquity of computers makes it easy to forget that there are other approaches to so many problems. All one has to do is open the smooth and blank laptop and type in a few words and magically things happen, but there is a disconnect between the action and the results. With a gear train, one can see exactly how this causes that on an immediate physical level. There is something very exciting about the tangible. I think this is also the reason that so many Steampunk creations externalize the mechanisms that are usually hidden – It gives us a sense of ownership through understanding.
SPB: Why did you all decide to “live” on an airship? What does it provide for you that 21st century reality cannot?
CM: On the surface-most level, power, autonomy, and self-determination. That’s really appealing, especially to people coming in like we did, as young people still in high school and dependant on their families, but beginning towards independence. But obviously the appeal runs much deeper than that. It is a bit like a utopian community, but without all the logistical problems – we can pick through Victorian and modern ideas, take what we like and reject what we don’t, and construct something new in a way that would be extraordinarily difficult in the real world. And we just don’t get to have epic battles with ray guns and air kraken in everyday life.
SPB: What is it about the steampunk aesthetic that appeals to you?
CM: The Steampunk aesthetic cuts away the disposability of modern consumer products and replaces it with the lasting, quality, and unique. Mass production creates piles of impersonal, disposable goods made from cheap materials with questionable labor practices and far too much plastic. Steampunk avoids synthetic materials and utilizes the hand-made or modded, finer materials, and intricate designs, and a loving eye for detail.
SPB: Where do you all get your inspiration for your costumes, and can you talk about its influences?
CM: Early 20th century military style has always appealed, as well as art deco and surrealism. I am always inspired by mathematics: fractals, patterns, and so on.
SPB: Future of Steampunk fashion? Where do you see it evolving too?
CM: I am always pleased to see Steampunk-influenced items in mainstream stores; I think Steampunk has some great sartorially ideas and it’s lovely to see them being used. That said, I don’t see Steampunk fashion ever entirely catching on in the wider world, but I’m pretty alright with that as well.