And, like all wonderful things, it wouldn't last.
Today the world of "steampunk" art is an embarrassing ghetto. With a few notable exceptions the "artists", and I use that term very loosely, are incompetent hacks. Most of the work infesting the genre consists of thrift store finds covered in brass gears slapped on with a big sloppy dollop of epoxy. It's ugly, shoddy stuff without any real creativity, craftsmanship, or artistic merit, well deserving of the "steamjunk" epithet.
But now and again something pops up that makes me forget all my bitterness over what happened to steampunk and reignites my love for what it can be. A genre that plays with the past's dreams of the future and our present perceptions of the possibilities of the past. Something beautiful and filled with wonder, brought to life with flair and attention to detail.
ToNToN CoPT of Cré’à’Vapeur collaborated with Cristophe of Petites-Curiosités to create a variety of interactive steampunk displays for Ukronium 1828, a new gaming shop in Lyon, France. All of the displays are fantastic, and you really should head over to ToNToN's blog to view the full gallery. What makes this project so likeable is the whole-hearted commitment to total theming by both the artists and the store. It's very reminiscent of the design work done by Disney's Imagineers at their best, blending traditional prop creation with interactive electronics.
Of all the projects the Time Machine is my favorite. The design work and craftsmanship that went into it are outstanding on their own...
...but it's also animated, triggering a realignment of the rings every fifteen minutes.
You can see videos of all the interactive displays in action over on Vimeo.