Living Steampunk

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If you have about $1.6 million lying around and a hankering for the classically quirky innovation of the Victorian era,  then this New York City apartment situated in Chelsea is your chrono-plasmatic cup of tea.  The flat is 1,800+ square feet of zany Steampunk delight.  The large kitchen rests under a LED glowing Zeppelin, a hidden bathroom behind cogs and pulleys, a bedroom underneath a silk greenhouse-frame, and a spacious 500 square foot terrace surrounded by green bamboo.  The front door is an oxidized submarine hatch with a locking porthole from the inside as if it came right off Captain Nemo’s Nautilus.  Feast your eyes on a literal living museum of a wondrous age gone by.

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Pure Steampunk

Art Donovan’s book available Aug. 1, 2011

Art Donovan is an innovative designer of Steampunk lighting.  He also happened to be the Curator of the “Steampunk + Contraptions Extraordinaire” exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science at Oxford University, UK. that was on exhibition October 13, 2009 through February 21, 2010.  Though the exhibition is long gone, Steampunk has only gained more popular momentum thanks to Donovan.  Art’s new book The Art of Steampunk is already the most popular book on Amazon.com in its category.  Before showing some of Donovan’s remarkably mind-blowing illuminating pieces, let us first take a peek back into the museum’s show.

The exhibition brought accomplished artisans and their contraptions from four continents:  Asia, Australia, North America, and Europe.  These designers were chosen by Donovan and Museum Director Dr. Jim Bennett as the creme-de-la-creme of the Steampunk aesthetic.  If you are new to the art form, you might ask what is Steampunk?  That is a question Donovan is asked all the time.  On my own Steampunk page here I take a photon-shot at describing Steampunk, but being the expert Donovan’s definition, Notes From A Steampunk Curator is more precise and true:

Regardless if an artwork is actually called “steampunk” the work in question must be transcendent.   The artwork must be evocative and unique even if it does not fit in to a formal category.   True Steampunk Art would be an artifact of grace and artistic ingenuity.   It would at first pay homage to the antique arts and sciences but ultimately point to a ideal or concept  greater than itself.    As an aside  most of the artists in my Bridgehampton exhibition in 2008 and in Oxford 2010 were not actual Steampunk artists but rather artists who are embraced by the enthusiasts of Steampunk.  Their artwork then becomes “steampunk” by default and represents the genre in the best of ways.

From the museum’s exhibition weblog, here are some sample photos of the many magnificent displays and their creators.  To visit each of their own sites go to The Steampunk Art & Design website.

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A total of eighteen inventors were present at the MHS exhibition.  It all came about when Donovan talked at length with museum director Jim Bennett and both agreed that Steampunk finds most of its technical and aesthetic roots in 19th century Victorian sciences; it was a natural fit for the museum.  Bennett told Donovan that he was also the one who should curate the exhibition.  It was a happy successful marriage.  The museum’s attendance and the public’s interest in the science-genre reached record numbers for Bennett.

Art Donovan of Donovan Design

Since discovering Steampunk in 2007, Art Donovan has jumped in the steampunk lighting-design market with exquisite creativity.  When asked how the Steampunk style fits into the repertoire of his other work, he states “It doesn’t fit in at all — totally from left-field.”  Because it is so kooky and original, Donovan has developed a deep fondness for the style.  “It’s like starting from the beginning,” he explains, “only this time I’m no longer concerned about what’s in and out of style.  Artistically, it’s just so liberating to work like that!

Donovan’s and Bennett’s show received world-wide attention.  Writers, journalists, reporters, and photographers from China to Australia, from Spain to Indonesia to Canada generated articles of the zany devices displayed for four months at Oxford University.  Even Time Magazine took note of the science-subgenre in December 2009:  Steampunk: Reclaiming Tech for the Masses.  And the public attraction shows no signs of subsiding.

Donovan Design, Art’s and his wife Leslie’s company, began as he started specializing in handcrafted custom light fixtures and illuminated sculptures.  Much of Art’s fine work can be seen at the Hamptons Antiques Gallery in Stamford, Connecticut.  If Stamford is a bit out-of-the-way, do not worry.  Here is a short slide show of some of his most popular creations on display at the gallery.

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Steampunkers O.M. Grey & Prof Elemental

Keeping my pledge to spread the wonderful world of Steampunk, I have stumbled upon the writer Olivia M. Grey and artist/entertainer Professor Elemental.  Olivia Grey is an accomplished author of dark paranormal romance with a Steampunk flair — a woman after my own twisted heart and mind!  If a Neo-Victorian sci-fi romance piques your dark side, then her blog and books are worth your time.  From her WordPress Bio:

“O. M. Grey dreams of the dark streets of London and the decadent deeds that occur after sunset. She dons a tight corset, a fluffy bustle, and a teeny-tiny top hat for fantasy conventions where she enjoys meeting fans and participating on panels. Olivia prefers to live in the cobwebbed corners of her dark mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist.”  And “…When she’s not writing, she’s reading, tending the garden, or drinking a hot cup of tea.”

Professor Elemental may not need much of an introduction to Steamers, but to the common mainstream out there, hold on to your knickers and spectacles you are about to be highly entertained!  Elemental is the type of chap that invokes the gag-reflex of “proper” British society — ahh, another Steamer after my heart!  To put it more succinctly and much more zany than I ever could, watch his delightful video below Cup of Brown Joy:

Please take a few moments to visit these wonderful talents of Steampunk.  I did and found myself having a much more epic day.  When you do, come back and tell me your thoughts; I may have another little adventure for you.  **winks and tips his top hat to you**


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This work by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://professortaboo.wordpress.com.