If Steampunk’s your thing, then you’re in luck! Recently I’ve had the privilege of interviewing Bruce Rosenbaum, the curator of the Jules Verne Gallery along with their exhibition at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham MA –Steampuffin’s Steampunk Form & Function: An Exhibition of Invention, Innovation and Gadgetry (www.crmi.org).
Having taken the virtual tour and had the opportunity to look at some stunning photographs, I must say how impressed I was with the exhibits! I can only imagine how much more breathtaking they must be when gazed upon in person, a trip I’m definitely going to try to make soon.
If you find yourself in New England at some point this year, why not stop in and see the exhibits for yourself? In the meantime, enjoy the virtual tour and finding out more about Steampunk by reading the interview with the very pleasant Mr. Rosenbaum below!
Q: How would you explain Steampunk to someone who’s not familiar with it?
A: Steampunk is a re-imagining of two (or more) distinct time periods and the fanciful and functional inventions that are produced. For example, imagine (or re-imagine) if the Victorian or Industrial age happened at the same time as the modern or information age what would have been produced in inventions, innovations, gadgets, art, dress and jewelry.
Q: What do you think people find so appealing about Steampunk? In other words, why the fascination?
A: The first word I hear when someone sees one of our Steampunk objects is “cool”. As you know, the word ‘cool’ also has a variety of different meanings – but it is the ‘cool’ definitions of ‘clever’ and ‘inventive’ that suit what we do well.
Maker culture and Steampunk design offers an alternative to homogeneous, black box technology. Maker culture, and it follows Steampunk culture, knows that humans matter and creating positive, understandable technologies is invigorating. Makers care about pride in craftsmanship and the magic of how handmade quality is an outward expression of the way we all should live our lives – and that details matter. It’s about high tech, but with high touch. The questions Makers frequently ask are: How can we take what we have and make it work better and how do we make it look its best? It’s the mashing and blending of the best of two worlds.
One thing I’ve gathered over the years is that people really enjoy viewing Steampunk art and design. It helps us remember a golden age in our history while giving us the opportunity to improve and move on. When we put on our Steampunk top hat, it reminds us of a time when machines were the result of people’s ingenuity and resources to overcome difficulties in their lives, when invention and innovation held promise of opportunity and relief from drudgery.
Q: What would you say is the most intriguing and/or popular exhibit at the Jules Verne Gallery?
A: I would have to say it is Nemo’s Steampunk Time Machine Antique Master Bathroom Computer Workstation. It infuses modern technology into period objects (bathroom fixtures and accessories).
Artist(s): Bruce Rosenbaum, ModVic (U.S.) and Walter Parker, Old School Plumbing (U.S.)
Title: Steampunk Time Machine Antique Master Bathroom Computer Workstation
Description: Antique Master Bathroom and Modern Computer Workstation – all in one!
Materials: Early 1900s Rib Cage ‘Needle’ Shower and Copper Tub make are the base of the workstation.
95% of all parts incorporate antique bathroom fixtures, plumbing pipes and connections. Samsung monitor, Dell Computer, Microsoft Webcam
Artist(s): Dale Mathis, The Art of Dale Mathis (U.S.)
Title: Jules Verne’s Executive Desk
Description: Nemo’s desk looking powerful enough to walk right out of his office in the Nautilus
Materials: Working gears with motor. Woods, glass, composite and steel
A: Jules Verne is considered the ‘father’ of Steampunk with his stories of future technology set in the Victorian period or Industrial age. When the interactive, immersive attraction, 20,000 Leagues opened up at Patriot Place in Foxboro MA – it was the perfect opportunity to bring in Nemo’s Steampunk Art & Invention Gallery to the world of Jules Verne’s highly acclaimed story.
A: Yes – for the right venue and the right time (however, I am working on another Steampunk time machine – so we shouldn’t have a problem with the time!
Q: Is it time for a resurgence of Vernes’ literature? Do you think we’ll see more Vernes-inspired movies, TV shows or games in the coming years?
A: Yes – I just started rereading ‘20,000 Leagues’ myself and I know a lot of readers are now rediscovering Jules Verne’s stories and finding them still relevant today with their themes of innovation, fun and being environmentally conscious. Also, a new movie version of ‘20,000 Leagues’ (a major Disney production) is coming out soon – and the director is calling it a “Steampunk movie”. Steampunk will be coming soon to a full boil.