Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Steampunk design

I'm not sure how this got by me, but I didn't know what "steampunk" meant until yesterday. My only excuse is that I rarely read science fiction, from which this aesthetic derived. The word was coined in 1987, but the literature goes back to Jules Verne (1828-1905) and H.G. Wells (1866-1946) and involves an alternate reality in which futuristic devices were powered by the steam engines of the time. The modern steampunk genre is characterized by machines in a historical setting that predates the Industrial Revolution. Steampunk subculture has developed around the literature and the resulting aesthetic is sometimes known as "neo-Victoriana." Afficionados have modified contemporary machines to meet this historically-grounded but futuristic look. Among the most artful - but still functional - devices are electric guitars and the computers and peripherals I have featured here, including a USB mouse, a laptop, keyboards, and all-in-one systems. I find them to be masterful, and clicking on the photos will show how some of them have been made. Note that the circular component in the top photo is a disk drive and the book on the desk is a flatbed scanner! Ingenious!

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