The H.M.S. Chronabelle Continues: Introducing Captain Mouse

Cap­tain Mouse, by Krista Bren­nan

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.

“The H.M.S. Chronabelle Continues: Introducing Captain Mouse” was published in Interviews, Uncategorized.

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