Whether one is personally familiar with Gothic subculture, has studied it academically or has a vague notion of it derived from mass media, one point stands: the subculture is too broad and diverse to fit within a specific definition.
A constellation of moments became visible in the arts/visual culture (painting, fashion, branding) that contested any notion that black can only be said to function as surface, as a colour. Rather, one is impressed with the substantive material qualities of black clothing, which could never have held the same degree of intensity or form had they been designed in a “colour.” This will be shown through the design work of Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, and Junya Wanatabe, which rely on the vocabulary and diversity of black for their collections.
In a previous article, we established that across a range of theoretical perspectives, there is a tendency for commerce and media to be associated with cultural superficiality or fluidity rather than substantive subcultural groupings as defined in this series.
The origin of the word Goth is connected to the Roman Empire but has little or nothing to do with the subculture. Goths were a Germanic tribe who helped in the defeat of the Roman Empire. In contrast, the gothic novel of the eighteenth-century is a pioneer of the modern understanding of the term gothic by being a genre related to the mood of horror, morbidity and darkness.
Imagine Jules Verne as an inventor instead of an author. Imagine Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, a submarine capable of speeds rivalling modern Seawolf-class attack submarines, as a reality. Imagine Frank Reade as historical figure instead of a fictional persona; imagine his steam-powered robots as a fact of the American frontier. Envision a world where the speculative dreams of Victorian and Edwardian writers like Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs were realities instead of fantasies, and you begin to see the world through steampunk lenses.