The Steampunk Aesthetic

Just today I was surfing around the web and came across this steampunk-modded computer:

It is exactly what comes to mind when I think "steampunk aesthetic" in that it would not look out of place in a Victorian home; it is practical, beautiful and exquisitely retro without a single aspect looking out of place.

Many steampunk enthusiasts (I really can't bring myself to call a person "a steampunk") seem to believe that everything Victorian was covered with gears or vacuum resistor tubes, forgetting that the actual gears and machinery were ALWAYS out of sight of polite society except where absolutely unavoidable (like on steam locomotives... and even then, the passenger platforms were designed to minimize their sight); gears and wires were tucked away inside wooden or metal cabinets.

I do understand that each person has her own idea as to what defines steampunk, but those of us who post here can often agree on what is not steampunk; sticking old gears non-functionally on a computer tower case (painted bronze) does NOT make it steampunk and does NOT appeal to the steampunk aesthetic.

To illustrate my point, I submit the following pics (credit to their authors):

Steam computer 01
Here we see a beautiful, simple mod; very Victorian; black "laquered" box, tasteful gilded embellishments and gold-tone screen. No gears, tubes or excessive ornamentation. Curiously, some people consider it the least steampunk of the three I present here.

Steam computer 02

Contrast with this monstrosity: covered in painted gears, weathered metal look... it certainly LOOKS like retro-tech, but that is just skin-deep (not even): it is completely non-functional; none of the gears look in any way useful. Simply put, it is the least "steampunk" of the three, IMHO; a jumbled-together post-modernistic statement on the industrial age that projects nothing of the ideas or aesthetics of steampunk.

Steam computer 03

I like this one. It is NOT steampunk at all, but it is retro; the curved lines, green colour and general aesthetic fit it in well in the late 1940's and early 1950's; call it "atomic-punk" or whatever is fashionable for the era... but wait! it has a gear uselessly visible on the mouse! that should overcome all the rest of the aesthetic and make it "steampunk", right?... WRONG! I have no idea why the modder put the gear there; maybe an alliteration of the socialist worker movement of the late 50's?

What a way of ruining a perfectly beautiful mod...

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