Steampunk Exhibition

The Steampunk Project 

Work: Third-year Open Window students

Project supervisor: Mark Kirby-Hirst

Exhibition curator: Jayne Robertson

What is the Steampunk Project?

Third-year Open Window students in Visual Discourse (the theory component of the Visual Communication degree) were initiated into the study of Cyberculture and Cyberpunk. They were introduced to the notion of Steampunk, an aesthetic revivalist movement with a similar love of technology to Cyberpunk, albeit with an antiquarian viewpoint (i.e. Victorian instead of Digital). They were then tasked with creating anything they could envision as being characteristic of Steampunk – as long as it could be physically carried – using the skills learned in their different disciplines. Pieces ranging from lamps to 3-D printed vehicles, clocks and guitars were produced. This is a curated exhibition of that process.

What is Steampunk?

Steampunk is about combining old and new ideas to create a uniquely hybrid form, something with the feel of a homemade design conjured within a tinker’s garden shed or garage workspace, and yet recalling the Golden Age of Queen Victoria in both spirit and appearance. The Steampunk objet typically longs for the distant future – an imagined time of steam-powered technological ascendancy – with an unmatched wonder and fascination. Materials like brass, copper, wood, and glass are favoured, while fine artistic engraving is often popular. Almost every item also includes the addition of cogs, wheels, and metallic plating as ornamentation. Each Steampunk devotee (for them it is no longer a sub-culture, it is a way of life) creates their paraphernalia with varied intentions, seeking at a minimum a new way to express their goth tendencies, and at most to protest the unstoppable march of modern technology. This philosophy has spread into product design where Steampunk materials (e.g. brass) have gained in popularity, also encouraging the upcycling of older pieces of art and furniture instead of replacing them with something completely new.

Mark Kirby-Hirst

Event Details

Name Steam Punk
Date Whole festival