Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Aesthetics of Technology

Whenever I start to wax poetic about how I was I born many decades too late, I'm reminded about all the reasons it's great to live in the modern world. Computers, for example, make it infinitely easier to compose a novel than typewriters did -- especially for those of us who are spelling-challenged. But just look at them. The computer itself isn't inspiring; it's a tool.

I love my light-as-a-feather Eee laptop, but it would be so much cooler if I could compose a mystery novel on a typewriter and then have it typeset on an ink-stained letterpress.

Maybe that's why drinking scotch and smoking never stuck for me. The wispy smoke of a half-forgotten cigarette lounging next to this piece of plastic is somehow incongruent. But next to an old fashion typewriter? Definitely.

Yes, I'm both an artist and a romantic. I want aesthetic sensibilities along with my technology, dammit.

Apple computers did this for a while, but I miss my 7-year-old sturdy silver laptop that was replaced with slick white plastic in the newer version. But a girl can dream -- especially when Steampunk exists.

The aesthetics of Steampunk make me long for that alternate universe where we can have modern technology with the style of Victorian England.

I'll take Robert Downey Jr. in Guy Ritchie's re-imagined Sherlock Holmes in favor of the modern forensics TV shows any day.



Sophie Littlefield said...

Gigi, I am fascinated by steampunk! It's a form I know I don't have the chops for, but I love the idea of blending the different eras. You would make the best steampunk heroine ever - actually, now that i think about it, of all my friends you are the one I can most see on one of those urban fantasy covers where you've got the tattoo and the gun and the crop top...glad you've decided to stay off the smokes though. hate to be a buzzkill but that's probably a wise choice.

Pamela Cayne said...

Maybe you could steampunk-bedazzle your laptop with small steel gears and brass washers and lines of copper tubing. I have to say I think that would look awesome! (Buy you'd have to wear long sleeves when carrying it or risk many small cuts.)

Juliet Blackwell said...

Gigi -- you hit on one of the things I don't like about a lot of newfangled technology -- it's just ugly! I hate to be that superficial, but there you are.

Gigi Pandian said...

Pamela -- That's a great idea! I could at least get a laptop sleeve that's a picture of gears. Hmm... Off to look that up!

Sophie -- I do ususally stop and pick up urban fantasy books at the bookstore because of their cool cover :)

Gigi Pandian said...

Juliet -- I don't think it's superficial to want the things that surround us to be beautiful in addition to being functional. I love the design work of Charles and Ray Eames (architects and furniture designers), who shared the form-follows-function philosophy where function comes first, but then why not make something beautiful so we'll enjoy it, too.

Anne Spencer said...

Great blog and love it-as one romantic to another. You've been one of my inspirations to start my writing again (poetry) and look into writing endeavors.
Have a blessed day.

Unknown said...

I hope my shiny silver laptop never gives out!

It bugs me that apple put its logo "upside down" to show off to other people, not for me to look at when it's closed.

I'm too big a fan of minimalism to go steampunk, but I do appreciate it, especially since some of the men's outfits are hubba hubba.

Gigi Pandian said...

Shannon -- Glad I helped inspire you. Have fun with your poetry!

Mysti -- I'm envious you still have your old silver Mac in working order! My CD slot started spewing computer innards out at me :(

Unknown said...

Love this! I think you perfectly hit on the appeal of Steampunk. I want things to be pretty too. :) and while I have no plans to give up my laptop, I miss the *sound* of the keys striking the paper from my old college typewriter. :)

Unknown said...

Down with beige boxes!
And hey, I have that Illusionist poster, framed, on the wall in my office. :-)

Susan Hatler said...

I'm definitely a modern world gal. My idea of *roughing it* is staying at my cottage on Kauai because it doesn't have a/c or wifi (tragic). Typewriters do have that soothing tink-tink-tink sound, but that's about the only appeal for me. Maybe you should've chosen a mysterious RED for your laptop. Mine's PINK and I miss it when it's far from me. Okay, now I'm sharing too much...