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Steampunk, Heavy, Metal July 31, 2008

Posted by leskanturek in 3-D work, Class Topics, Steampunk, Visually Cool & Relevant.
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Above (left) Director Katsuhiro Otomo’s 2005 Steamboy, (middle) Movie remake of the ’60s TV Show The Wild, Wild West, (right) Poster from the Rocketeer movie, based on the Dave Stevens character.

Steampunk, is an aesthetic that mixes 19th century, industrial revolution (ie: steam power) technology with elements of science fiction. Think the Wild Wild West, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a kind of Mad Max meets Victorian England. An amazing conceptual exercise, to take the aesthetic of one age and apply it to another. As much as I want to go on about it in high academic verbosity, the geek in me just wants to write “It’s just really, really cool” and leave it at that.

Above (left) Valerie Beetle’s Wood PC, (right) Electriclerk, Andrew H. Leman’s modified Macintosh SE.

The next time you’re at a flea market try and look for older examples of machinery. Frequently even the mundane is painted and adorned in some way. A friend of mine collects farm engines (Tired Iron), stand alone combustion engines that were used around a farm to power saws, threshers, split wood etc. All the early engines have this Victorian pin striping, outlining parts and sported distinct color schemes. There was an effort to make even machinery visually pleasing. Yes, all that Victorian over ornamentation for it’s own sake reached a peak and led to the simplified lines of the arts and crafts movement, well that’s another post… Part of the steam punk culture is the rebellion against “the big beige box” we sometimes see in modern product design that hides a machines guts. Steam punk, like the culture of the industrial revolution embraces the visual aesthetic in, and the romantic view of, technology as our savior. Don’t conceal that flywheel, plate it in brass, etch it with scroll work put it out there for the world to see. With those parameters I could contemplate the argument that H.R. Gieger has a bit of steam punk in him. A steam punk mouse or computer looks like

Above (left) “The Original Model 420 Pneumatiform Infumationizer” by Mr Kaden, (right top) Clarinet Gun,  from gizmodo.com/gadgets/ steampunk?refId=18, (right bottom) Steampunk mouse by Jake of all trades.

the complicated technological achievement that it is, it’s inspiring in it’s mechanical-ness. When you make a call you’re not just using a cell, you’re employing a wireless audiophonic broadcaster, or maybe a stratophone. A steampunk creation might also be commenting on the ponderousness and oppressive aspect of technology in society (think Terry Gilliam’s Brazil).

Above (left) Steampunk artwork for an iPod by Gelaskins,created by Colin Thompson (right) USB flash drive from Russia, posted at http://www.geekologie.com,

The Steampunk movement has it’s beginnings in literature and writing is a large component. Not having too much experience in that area I’ll leave that up to the entry in Wikipedia on steampunk’s literary beginnings. There are plenty of sites where steampunk devotees trade tips, sources for raw materials and share photos/drawings of projects in progress. The coolest aspect in my view is that most projects (Mods, in some cases) actually work. Steampunks also re-imagine well known movies or characters as steampunk, say Star Wars for example.

(left) A steampunk Darth Vader, (* I lost the credit for this, but it is someone’s copyright art. I t was just too cool not to post. I’ll update it as soon as possible) .

There are tons of examples of steampunk on the web, costumes, mods, guitars, cars. You name it it can be steampunked. I would suggest after going to The Steampunk Workshop you try a google search tacking on an item, ex. steampunk computer, steampunk star wars and then sit back for the eye candy.

With that in mind…. just one more image.

Below (left) Jake von Slatt’s Victorian all-in-one PC. (right) a working laptop created by a Japanese steampunk. It sports with mechanical keys, a speaker on the deck, a wooden space bar, and a morse key over the trackball. posted on boingboing.net

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