lunes, 2 de junio de 2014

The Aether Nomads Project

When I met and interviewed Sally-Ann Livingston aka 'The Navigatrix' in February she talked about this new project called the Aether Nomads. (It was in the Steampunk Hands. It’s a long story. If you want to know more visit:
http://www.mundosteampunk.net/2014/02/steampunk-hands-around-world-ix.html) As she said, it was born from combining her latest LRP character with Steampunk Multiculturalism.
There are a growing number of people interested in expressing Steampunk from a non-Western viewpoint. Anthologies such as “Shanghai Steam” or “Steampunk World” are good examples of that. And I’m very interested, too. So, I asked her for more information about it.
She is currently working on the Aether Nomad Project; she said "It is a whole fictitious, Airship-based nomadic culture…"
 She and 'Heyk Al-Khemeti' have created the Facebook Group called Aether Nomads to develop ideas for new characters, costumes and stories; and share some inspiration and music.
As a writer, I’m part of that growing group and I’m very interested in it. Well, I’d like to participate more in the group and share some stories; but I’m overworked and there’s no time to add new projects to the agenda…
Anyway, she said that I’m like an ‘in group reporter’. Well, I kinda like that. And, I know how to do that job.

So, I decided to give voice to the Aether Nomads and Sally-Ann in this blog, again.

—First of all, thanks for joining MundoSteampunk again. Please, tell us, why Aether Nomads? Why this culture?
I've always loved stories and through my love of books, films and my hobby of Live Roleplay, I've developed some storytelling skills. I found that whenever I sat down to make a new item of jewellery or an accessory for my Etsy shop, The Navigatrix. I would inevitably find myself making up little snippets of story that would end up in the item descriptions.

One day I made a pair of earrings that were quite tribal in feel. At the time I was creating a new LRP character, a sort of Moroccan-esque dancing warrior. I had seen some Neo-Bedouin type Steampunk costumes, one of which was from the  Steampunk Amazones collection by Izabela of http://www.priorattire.co.uk and we ended up doing a collaborative photoshoot. I saw a trend on Etsy for Tribal jewellery and noticed that some Steampunks are attracted to playing slightly exotic characters. For my LRP character, I had been researching  Turkish and Moroccan design, largely on Pinterest, and fell in love with the latter. I was partly inspired also by the Drifters mentioned in Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate books.
Somewhere in my brain, all these ideas coalesced to become the idea of a tribe of Steampunks that travelled through dimensions and even time. My love of popular metaphysics and personal development also has a place in this story.


 —Tell us something about them… How do you see that people? How do they live?
The Aether Nomads are wise and balanced people. (You have to be when you travel through space/time!) There are four major directions that their skills and abilities can travel in, though some have a combination and one, the Alchemist, is a balance of all four.
Vibrancer - (Dancers, Performers, Musicians and Tradition-keepers)
Aethermatician - (Airship Pilots,Navigators)
Symbologists - (Diviners, Jewellers,Linguists,Historians, keepers of records)
Metaphysicians - (Healers, Philosophers, Gardeners)
They live in collections of brightly decorated airships, dirigibles and balloons, that never touch the ground but go low enough for the Aether Nomads to create large marquees on the ground, using the mooring ropes to hold up the fabric.
Some ride giant birds (Rocs, Rhuk - we haven't quite settled on the name yet) as outriders and protectors. There is a fantasy element but I'm keen to keep Steampunk at the heart of the idea.


—It seems that the Aether Nomads project took a further step. What’s the situation now? And how do you feel about it?
Yes! Well, from beginning as little bits of story in item descriptions, Heyk and I co-wrote Part One of Tales of The Navigatrix (and I'm eager to begin Part Two!) on my blog. Being keen to share this idea, basically to start a new sub-genre within Steampunk - very much like writing a character type for a roleplaying game - I decided to invite other creators and designers to take the idea as inspiration and make physical items. This is still in the very early stages as those who have expressed interest are running businesses and working on other things as well.
 The private Facebook group was developed as a place to nurture both these Designers and also Participants, people who may wish to write, create costumes, characters and even events.

—About the Fb group, we have thirty members and it seems that it’s growing. How do you join people to that group?
At the moment, either by invitation or by sending me or Heyk a request. We can then 'befriend' you on Facebook which allows us to add you to the list.
I've been in talks with Adam Boutiche and Ezekiel Barentszn of The International Steampunk Objective. The Aether Nomads are now a part of that global umbrella (or should I say Parasol?) social network.

—Imagine that someone is reading this right now, thinking “I like it; I can help and I want to join”…
Get in touch with me through Etsy or thenavigatrix[at]yahoo.co.uk or with Heyk (who speaks French, Arabic, some Spanish and Italian) and tell us how you would like to be involved. We'll add you to the Facebook group and point you toward the essential information, such as the Aether Nomad Inspiration board on Pinterest.

—When you propose someone to join it, how do they usually react?
With excitement and enthusiasm! I'm head over heels with joy at how people are taking to this idea.

—Can you say something about what they’re creating there? For example, some drawings or short stories that you liked most…
I cannot pick out specific things because so many wonderful ideas, suggestions and sketches are being put forward. However, this project is still in a very early stage and the 'Compessence', the pictorial graph of the various vocations such as Vibrancer, Aethernaut etc. has not quite been completed yet. It never will be actually as I am actively encouraging people to make this idea their own. We're just providing guidelines.

I talked about it with Heyk Al Khemeti, too. “My character is Al Khemeti.”, he said, “I build it like being the keeper of the old secrets of the Aether Nomad, is a kind of alchemist but also a wise man a little bit tricky with foreigner. He's a small version of all the knowledge of the Nomads. I speak fluently Arabic and I'm also involved in this culture I can bring here some history, tales or myth about it.


—About your stories and the jewellery, and aside from what the people in the group are doing, what are you currently working on?
I'm gathering ideas for Part Two of the story, of how the gargantuan airship 'The Unpronounceable' was salvaged but I'm waiting for a photo opportunity to happen, so I may have to change tack and write something of The Navigatrix's journals in the mean time.
As for making things…I need to make gloves! It has become apparent that they sell, they are hard to get hold of (especially for men) and I'm already thinking of preparations for Weekend at the Asylum in Lincoln, UK, this year. That and head jewellery. I really have too many ideas to make them all!

—And what do you want to do (or what can we do) with all the ideas and inspirations of the group?
If you make things, send us a link to your shop or site. Allow us to be picky about the Designers though - I'd rather everyone did something slightly different and I ask everyone who would like to make Aether Nomad items for sale to at least credit 'From an idea by The Navigatrix'.
Or perhaps you'd like to Participate? You could do some illustrations (that may be used publicly in the future), write short stories, create a costume and/or a character, run an event, compose some music...
The whole point in making the Aether Nomads multi-dimensional was to allow for varied and individual creativity, whilst still adhering to a central idea. Also, I have deliberately avoided actual cultural and historical accuracy as I intend this to be a purely fictitious culture. Any reference to existing cultures is purely for inspirational purposes.

—If you want to add something more…
Only to say how bowled over and grateful I am that my little idea is growing as fast as a young Roc and taking off around the world only a few months after it was opened up to others.
I'd especially like to thank Heyk, Catherine Moon, Sarah Chernik, Wendy Creed and Dara Harvey for their support and contributions, as well as to our newest members. Thanks to Jennie Gyllblad for creating such a wonderful illustration of the lovely Cloud Dancer that you'll see as our banner.

May the Tribe grow strong and billow across the sky in clouds of Steam and Mystery!

You can find The Aether Nomad Collection on Etsy here: