Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Infernal Devices

Josh W. Kinsey brings us a selection of custom props. These were all crafted for the web series "The Record Keeper". The steampunk-style reel-to-reel recorder is a brilliant piece, and the "photonic siphuncle" and case are equally impressive. When I see work like this I weep at the junk that gets passed off as "steampunk art". This is what real craftsmanship looks like.

1 comment:

CoastConFan said...

These devices show an understanding of the neo-Victorian meme with high quality fittings and finish, mimicking pops used in 1950s and 1960s films inspired by Jules Verne. They are well made props that are pleasing to the eye and are clearly carefully constructed and all the care shows through. They really inspire me and that is what a good prop should do in addition to their intent of being believable. When a good prop inspires others, it has done its job and then some. These are absolutely first class props!

In order to make believable steampunk or neo-Victorian items you have to understand the Victorian decorative aesthetic of the industrial revolution. The decorative arts were very important and even heavy machinery was made to please the eye. Giant powerful wheels had contrasting pinstripes painted on, with everything color coordinated paint schemes were popular on everything from houses to machines.

The ancient classic and other cultural motifs were employed to make items more appealing to the Victorian eye. Cherubs and allegorical figures crawled all over machinery and furniture on sheets of gilt and nickel plate. There is a reason it was derisively called “The Gilded Age”. Modern electroplate caused surfaces to be plated in shiny nickel and in gold plate as never before.

Eventually, a counter movements against wild clutter and busy surfaces created new philosophical designs such as the Aesthetic movement, Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, and appreciation for clean lines and form following function in both objects and architecture, but that’s another story.

So yes, just gluing a cog on it and calling it steampunk just isn’t enough when you don’t know the basics of Victorian aesthetics and design. The following YouTube link gives some further (amusing) information:

An example of classic inspired 19th century machinery such as a functional static electric generator in the Victorian aesthetic with a gallery showing components in building your own: