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Salvagepunk (also known as Junkpunk or Scavenged Punk) is a stylized setting that focuses on technology and culture based on an unusual source: scavenged junk. Weapons, tools, clothing, and sometimes entire cities will be built out of repurposed/recycled materials. A key factor here is that said materials, often pieces of trash, are being used for something other than their original purpose (as opposed to simply being repaired and reused).

In speculative fiction this often takes place in the remnant of society after an apocalypse[1]. However, it can also be used to describe the reperpopusing rubbish in the contemporary era. This could include the DIY culture of Cuba discussed by Ernesto Oroza where people repurposed household electronic goods into new products due to the trade embargos on the country[2]. The commonplace refurbishing of western e-waste in developing countries where they are resold and used again[3].

Philosophy

In music critique the term has been used to describe the repurposing and reforming of cultural detritus. Mark Fisher described Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Nobodies here” as salvagepunk due to it’s sampling of Chris de Burgh’s “Lady in Red”. Summarising Evan Calder Williams' Fisher says:

"[Salvagepunk] provides a broader context for thinking about how these methodologies deviate from their banal twin, postmodernity. For Williams, salvagepunk – at once a sensibility; a kind of non-genre embracing film, fiction and other cultural spheres; and a theoretical framework – is to be opposed to the “inherent flatness and equivalency of postmodern cultural production”. It draws together (and from) the 20th century’s chief arts of reappropriation: montage (Eisenstein, Vertov, Chris Marker), collage (Heartfield and Gilliam), détournement (Duchamp, Debord and the Situationist International, hiphop) and farce (Monty Python and Richard Lester).

By opposition to postmodern pastiche, in which any sign can be juxtaposed with any other in a friction-free space, salvagepunk retains the specificity of cultural objects, even as it bolts them together into new assemblages. That’s precisely because salvagepunk is dealing with objects rather than signs. While signs are interchangeable, objects have particular properties, textures and tendencies, and the art of salvage is about knowing which objects can be lashed together to form viable constructions." [4]

Salvagepunk could be thought of as differentiated from less optimistic post-apocalyptic aesthetics as it draws heavily on rebuilding as a motif, these are the terms used by xenogothic to discuss it in “The Philosophy of Salvagepunk”[5].

Visual

Post Apocalyptic

Rusty, old objects/machines. Chaotic, mismatched clothing. Multi-purpose items. Scrap metal and other pieces of trash.

Fashion

Kind of a mix of steampunk and goth.

Some ideas:

  • Mismatched clothes
  • Dark, faded, rusty colours
  • Ripped clothing
  • Strange items attached to the clothes
  • Leather
  • Survival gear
  • Post-apocalyptic clothes
  • Outdated/very old objects
  • Dirt/grease
  • Toolkit or large bag full of odd items
  • Lots of belts, zippers and chains
  • Layered jewelry
  • Jewelry made from recycled trash
  • Weapons/tools hanging from belts
  • Handmade, rusty weapons
  • Scrap Metal Armor

Music

Rock music, heavy metal, alternative rock

In Media

Anime/Manga

  • Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita)
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Danganronpa 3

Movies/Shows

  • Ready Player One (specifically the Stacks)
  • Alita Battle Angel
  • Mortal Engines
  • Serenity/Firefly
  • Tank Girl
  • Thor: Ragnarok (the planet Sakaar)
  • Elysium
  • The Fifth Element
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Cast Away
  • 28 Days Later
  • Howl's Moving Castle
  • Walking Dead
  • Lost
  • Scrap Heap Challenge
  • WALL•E
  • Robots
  • 9 (2009 animated film)

Books

  • Maze Runner (the grievers)
  • Stig of the Dump
  • Railsea
  • Combined and Uneven Apocalypse

Video Games

  • Fallout
  • Dying Light
  • Borderlands
  • Machinarium
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
  • Sims Castaway
  • Mad Max
  • This War of Mine
  • Don't Starve
  • The Forest
  • Scrap Mechanic
  • 7 Days to Die
  • Crossout
  • State Of Decay
  • Rust
  • Danganronpa 3

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