Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Solarpunk & Art Nouveau

A few years ago while browsing the website Tumblr, I discovered a post by user 'missolivialouise' which had a great idea. She had written about the idea for a new literary genre of science fiction. She called it "solarpunk".

What is 'Solarpunk'?

Solarpunk is a relatively new science fiction & art genre that focuses on the environment, sustainability, advanced technology, renewable energy and how societies in the future will adapt to these things. Solarpunk aims to be inclusive of others, diverse and promotes a world and life that is environmentally sustainable (and achievable).

Solarpunk follows in the footsteps of 'Steampunk', 'Cyberpunk' and other sci-fi literary/artistic categories.

What does this have to do with Art Nouveau?

In her original post in 2014 missolivialouise suggested the aesthetics for the newly created genre could be based in Art Nouveau/Edwardian styles. This is a fantastic idea as there is a lot of natural elements and organic themes in Art Nouveau. To see a movement from the 1890's-1900's reinvented with futuristic ideals and technologies, with an emphasis on nature would be amazing. The idea of solarpunk has captured the imagination of many people on Tumblr and beyond. There have been a few publications made (one example here) and many artworks showing what a "Solarpunk" future would look like.

Missolivialouise posted art she created to show what fashion might look like in a future like this:

In her post she said,
"Can you imagine how pretty it would be to have stained glass windows everywhere that are actually solar panels? The tech is already headed in that direction!  Or how about wide-brim hats, or parasols that are topped with discreet solar panel tech incorporated into the design, with ports you can stick your phone charger in to?"

...."A lot of people seem to share a vision of futuristic tech and architecture that looks a lot like an ipod – smooth and geometrical and white. Which imo is a little boring and sterile, which is why I picked out an Art Nouveau aesthetic for this."

I would agree that having a style like Art Nouveau, or Edwardian or even Victorian would be cool to be reinvented in a new way.

As someone who is very fond of (and supports) environmentalism, the creation of a genre like solarpunk struck me in a very sincere way. As of right now the world is going through many, many changes, and a lot of them are very negative for the environment. Changing the course will require a cultural shift and a new way of looking at things. People will ultimately have to change the way they think and live. There is no better time for a genre like solarpunk to pop up than now.

I'd like to imagine the future (and Solarpunk) with people living in beautiful, sustainable houses, growing their own food, using renewable energy and living a life that has a small footstep on the world.

When it comes to architecture and art nouveau, I have always had a personal fantasy to create a sculpted house (from cob, or other materials like adobe) and decorate it in the art nouveau style. I think this would fit into the idea of Solarpunk (and would be easy to customize). Indeed, someone has even tried to replicate art nouveau in sculpted concrete form for a house. And it looks great. Houses made of earthen materials would also be very customizable. You could basically 'sculpt' your own house with enough knowledge.

Fashion would also be a great topic to think about. In 2016 I made a little drawing of what I thought a Solarpunk dress/outfit would look like. Here's my concept idea:

and if you follow the solarpunk hashtag on tumblr, you will see many other concept designs, discussions, artworks and writings about Solarpunk.

I'm all on board for Art Nouveau to be the main style for Solarpunk. I hope others will join the online discussion and make Solarpunk a reality for everyone.

Credits: First three drawings made by missolivialouise. Used with permission.

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