January 18, 2011

Report on Arisia Geek Culture Convention

        D and I spent the weekend at Arisia, a sci fi/fantasy/geek culture convention where I had some of my fantasy-related art in the art show.  This is the first such con either of us had attended and it made an interesting mini-vacation.  D, who's interested in geek culture more generally than I am (and whose idea it was that I should try selling my art there), checked out a variety of panels and programs.  I, who am interested more narrowly in fantasy literature and art, tried to go to all the panels and activities that catered to those interests.  I found the con rather too diffuse to be useful: too many people with too many wildly diverse interests were all trying to follow their own thread.  Even though I ended up seeing the same people over and over at all the literature panels, I didn't get the impression that we necessarily shared the same taste or opinions on what makes a fantasy book great.  This was a little disappointing, as the whole idea of a thing like this is to get together with like-minded people.  (In all fairness I should admit that an introvert like myself is perhaps not one to get the most out of a convention!)  However, I did write down a whole list of books people mentioned that sounded like they might be interesting, so perhaps I will find some new favorites among them.
Top hat? Check.
Little round glasses with extra lenses?  Check.
Corset?  Check.
Cog decor?  Check.
We have achieved steampunk!
        Also, of course, there was most excellent people-watching with the costumes that paraded down the halls and milled around in the lobby.  The hot theme this year was obviously steampunk.  Any clothing vaguely Victorian in flavor, with the addition of goggles, becomes steampunk.  There were top hats and bowlers everywhere, and little round spectacles enhanced with extra lenses.  Steampunk was heavily represented among the dealers selling clothing and accessories, too.  (I'm all inspired to start smashing up old watches and seeing what I can make with the bits!)  I was rather surprised at how few of the more traditional medieval fantasy costumes there were, how little Star Wars, how little Star Trek, and no aliens to speak of.  I was quite surprised at how many kilts there were, but apparently geeks love their kilts.  There were also corsets corsets everywhere: Renaissance-ish corsets, bondage fetish corsets, Victorian steampunk corsets, completely gratuitous corsets…  Apparently geeks love their corsets.  I'm happy with kilts, but I hold no truck with corsets, so it would seem that I can never be a true geek.  ("But darling, going corsetless is so mundane.")  There were way too many six inch heels, too.  I would have thought the whole point of being a geek is so you don't have to be a fashionista wannabe, so I found it quite ironic that those who claim to be so counter-cultural have gone full circle and ended up acting exactly the same as the "in" crowd of supermodels.  *Shrug*  I guess I'll just stick with my comfortable shoes and be neither nor.
        The part of the con I enjoyed most was probably the historical weapons demonstrations (everything from medieval longsword to Roman legionary to Jedi lightsaber.)  There were also programs I enjoyed on Renaissance dances, and swing dancing, and a belly dancing show.  Don't ask me to come up with any intrinsic connection between the last two and sci fi or fantasy, but the fantastic thing about the belly dancing show was that the routines did have sci fi and fantasy themes: World of Warcraft, "The Fifth Element," "Metropolis"… How can you not like a belly dancing homage to "Tron"?
Me practicing my medieval swordsmanship
(in sensible shoes, of course.)
        I did come away with a number of interesting tid-bits of thought, many of which will be appearing in upcoming entries here.  As for the art show, though sales were not spectacular, I did sell enough to make it worth going.  And, of course, D and I got the weekend away, so what's not to like about that?

[Pictures: photos by D Nydam and AEGN at Arisia, 2011.]


Nan said...

What a hoot! Many years ago I spent a weekend with the Society for Creative Anachronism. Heraldry and crushed velvet were all the rage, and I remember meeting an awful lot of pikemen.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Sounds fun!
It was the SCA who led us in Renaissance dances, so there was plenty of crushed velvet and brocade in evidence there. As for pikemen, folks from the Higgins Armory Museum put us through our paces in the halberd drill, so I'm very nearly a pikeman myself now. (I wish I had a photo, but D and I were both in the lineup and too busy protecting our burg or canton to take pictures of each other.)

Nan said...

But you do cut quite the swashbuckling image in your swordsmanship photo!