Jonathan Gómez, known in the steampunk world as Arcana, is a 22 years old student of psychology. He has been in the steampunk movement of Chile since its beginnings. He is known as a gun aficionado and collector, his elaborate garments and his tales about the Captain A.R.C.
Arcana has a great imagination, which is reflected in his storytelling and hi interest in the creation of objects -functional or not-. Remarkable are his objects inspired in marine creatures and his different costumes, among them an elaborated pirate suit.
We invite you know a bit more of the creator of Captain Arc and many objects, among them the quill of Ucronías, made in collaboration with Nané.
Ucronias: Could you tell us how do you see the Steampunk movement in Chile, considering that you have seen it from the beginning?
Arcana: The movement has growth a lot since its beginning in Chile, as much in the number of adepts as the number of works and creations that are currently being made. From the beginning, when there were only a few that knew this multicultural movement, unconnected, each one without knowing about the existence of other people; now we are a community that is in constant movement and constan creation, sharing and showing steampunk in all its diverse areas.
The steampunk in Chile has growth exponentially, however, there is still a lot to do in different aspects, specially in spreading the concept, since it looks like there is little information about what is steampunk; it’s not unusual that in our meetings or events that the group assists as guests, the people asks “what is this!”. So, it’s our duty to try to give an answer to that question, a hard thing to do, given that steampunk is so broad that any explanation falls short.
U: What are your inspirations?
A: Regarding steampunk, from my perspective, inspiration comes from two main areas, the work of other people and the imagination, it’s like to look at stuff on the internet and say “hey, I want that” and then your imagination starts to process how and with what you could make it, and then some other times it’s the opposite, you imagine something and then search other’s people work to get an idea about how to do it. I think those two areas feedback each other in the steampunk context, turning steampunk into something even greater.
U: What is your relationship with the steampunk community at the international level? Do you think that the steampunk in Chile is different than in the rest of the world?
A: My relationship with steampunk at a global scale is the one of a fan, like a moth blinded by this endless source of imagination, aesthetics, art, mechanical and other “lights”.
I think there is a difference, given that steampunk is something that you can amalgamate with any concept, I think that the steampunk as movement varies between countries and even between people, because it mixes with the most basic aspects of each one; in Chile, the steampunk mixes with its history, with its image, with its way of understanding society, with the chilean vision, that’s why we can find in Chile the narrative that mixes things that are only ours, like the referents of the Guerra del Pacífico (The War of the Pacific, 1879 through 1883 in which Chile against Peru and Bolivia), lost heroes like the Lieutenant Bello, the saltpeter and mining tradition; steampunk merges with elements of the identity of each country and each person, making a unique creation, that’s why each person and each country is making a valid and wonderful contribution to the global steampunk.
U: Tell us about your character.
A: My characters is conceived as a mixture of the literature that I like; it is born, among other tales, from “El Vaso de Leche” (“The Glass of Milk”) by Manuel Rojas. My character is named Alan, ex-captain of am airship, a man that fought in the war between two kingdoms, “The Old Army”, an utopian monarchy lead by the Queen Maud, and the “Nova Patria”, a strong czarist regime. My character is the ex-captain A.R.C. (Air Royal Captain) who, after the war is lost, is no more than a vagrant sailor who goes from port to port as a stowaway; a forgotten hero from a war that no one wants to talk about, everyone still calls him Captain A.R.C., no matter how many times he says that he is no captain of anything, not anymore. He has great skill with the revolver, but with a sword, even a boy wielding a broom could defeat him. He is more like a ghost, a forgotten man.
U: Are you currently working in a project or do you plan to start one soon?
A: There are always projects, both new ones and old ones that haven’t been finished yet, among them stories, tales, objects, accessories, clothes, mechanic artifacts, even an RPG videogame with characters based on members of the community, but my passion is always the guns, there is always a gun in developing waiting to be shown.
U: Have you worked or do you plan to work in a group? Do you gain something (in creative terms) by belonging to a steampunk community?
A: I think every project has a collective element, in my case, I’m always in contact with other members asking for information on where to get materials or new ideas, I’m always giving feedback or trying to help, or trying to get help from other people and without a doubt, that’s the main creative benefit, to share for example different painting techniques to achieve certain textures or to learn from unknown areas, that’s the great benefit of belonging to a community, everyone is willing to contribute with your project.
U: Outside of the steampunk context, does steampunk influences other aspects of your life?
A: Yes, each time something stops functioning in my house, I try to fix it, to make it last a little longer, either with its designed purpose or with a new one, steampunk in my life is a creative contribution but also a philosophical one, to get rid of the actual idea of disposability, try to reuse, to reinvent, from an old pair of trousers, to things that can be considered junk, steampunk in my life has helped me to be more eco-friendly and more creative.