Monday, June 1, 2009

Steampunked: who'd a thunk it?

Tired of the sleek minimalist streak? Aluminum laptops looking too generic? We got to talking about aesthetics in Seattle, and my friend Jeanne just said the word "steampunk" one night over a platter of scallions at Wild Ginger. "We need to make a black crocheted logo," she said. "Steampunk: for the angry-but-optimistic urban aesthete. Look it up."

So I did, and I must say: wow. Who knew? You can find tutorials for creating your own modifications of technology. Here are directions, at Jake of All Trades, for making a fully functioning steampunked mouse (áká "Bug").

Steampunk, a tongue-in-cheek variation on cyberpunk, draws on the scientific romances of the 19th century, by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, and (my own favorite) Mary Shelley. Here is more from Wikipedia, where you'll find an elaboration of influences and tropes.

Hieronymous Isambard "Jake" von Slatt (né Sean Slattery) at the incredible Steampunk Workshop steampunked his Dell 1907FP flat-panel monitor with gaslamp arms, a brass-colored aluminum frame, and chime levers from a grandfather clock: read more here in a Newsweek article.

The best steampunked computer creations are collected here: brilliant and wild artifacts of transformative ingenuity. And we've seen one "steampunked" computer here before, in the You Tube video offering tips for using the "Electric Friendship Generator."


NaPoMarie said...

Ellen, this is hilarious and wonderful. I sent the link to your post and to the steampunk website with the pictures of the wild computers to my family.

elena said...

I know: it opens the mind...!