Sunday, January 6, 2008


I'm really extremely excited about Steampunk.  It's very Me, so I don't know why it took me so long to hear about this movement, but I've always loved Jules Verne and automata and all that stuff.

Basically it's like Cyberpunk, but from 1890: retrofuturism from the Victorian Age, as if our current technology had evolved from that period and kept its aesthetic.  It's wonderful.  There's also a branch that goes into fanciful technologies in the Old West, and actually the film Wild, Wild West--a very cool film, by the way--is extremely Steampunk.  I've recently begun watching the 1960s TV show the film was based on, and it's very cool and gadgety, as well.  It occurred to me, watching David Lynch's Dune recently, that that film would sort of fit, too, I believe, because it's futuristic technology with an almost ancient look to it.  Although that's more just exotic than it is specifically Industrial Age Earth.

It seems there's quite a few people building this insane stuff, but one of the major ones seems to be Hieronymous Isambard "Jake" von Slatt, who maintains Steampunk Workshop:

He's made the most incredible modification of a desktop computer:

On his website he runs step-by-step through how he made basically every component pretty much from scratch.  At first I figured he'd gotten the keys from an old typewriter, but he even made those completely from scratch, which sort of makes sense, since old typewriters didn't have things like a "control" key.

Von Slatt is shown there with his Steampunk guitar, although I think I like this one, by J. Ritzmann of Thunder Eagle Custom Guitars a bit more:

Another guy doing some serious stuff is Datamancer, and it appears he and von Slatt are friends or at least know each other.

Datamancer has made the most incredible modification of a laptop computer:
There are a lot more images of that, including some of the steps in doing the modification, on his website.  I'd seen them before but couldn't get them to load for me this time, maybe you'll have better luck than I did.  Anyway, I think it's really extraordinarily beautiful, and so cool.  The casing I believe is from an old music box, but much of the rest of it was created from scratch as well.

This is Datamancer's "Opti-Transcripticon":
Which is actually a flatbed scanner:

One of the other things they love playing with is pleonasm, which is like ridiculously long, unnecessarily complicated names for things.  Sort of like the way Monty Burns talks--which I've always loved--for lack of a better analogy.  

So this is Datamancer's "Nagy Magical-Movable-Type Pixello-Dynamotronic Computational Engine," which he says is still being worked on:

Here's also the "Electriclerk" (creator unknown), found on etoday:

If you'd like hand-control of your new-fangled machine, a guy named Unklian has created a mouse with an "on-board furnace":

I think it's powered by some kind of crystal?

And here's one by (presumably) another guy named
Jake, which is designed to control something called a "Telecalculograph":

The third guy who would seem to be a major force with this stuff has a blog on here, as well, Alex CF.  He's evidently made props for movies and stuff like that.  He made spectacles that allow you to see the undead.  While Alex's work doesn't really use much real technology, which is what I find so amazing about von Slatt and Datamancer, the really cool thing is that he creates apparatus for fictional science of his own imagining, so it's really pretty awesome.  

For instance, this is a Martian Botanical Preservation Device:

For keeping plants found on Mars alive for scientific study, no doubt.

This is a Chrono-Displacement Device:

It creates wormholes allowing its user to travel through time.

I'm not exactly sure what "The Inquisitor" does, but I'm convinced it's something very awesome:

Here's another extremely cool piece of headgear (creator unknown) found on etoday:

One of the things I definitely want to accessorize myself is one of these watches.  They're really incredible.  Rumor would have it that they're either not for sale or extremely difficult to purchase, but maybe sometime in the near future.  Here are a bunch found on Akihabara News:

And a couple found at Eager-Beavers:

Last but not least, we musn't forget the kiddies.  This is the funniest thing at Dr. A's Spookypop, a website you absolutely must visit, because their stuff is out of control.  This, though, is "Pac Gentleman" by Erick Scarecrow:

I don't think it really works, but who cares? It's evidently from the "Secret History of Video Games." Pac Gentleman wears a bowler hat and the ghosts have handlebar mustaches. Brilliant.

©2007, Ryan Witte

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