Monday, March 23, 2009

Steampunk Centennial

Today I'm reaching one of my blogging milestones: my centennial post. So far I haven't deleted one. Nor have I significantly revised any post except to edit out unnecessary words or play with the indexing.

I'd love to do a bibliographic subject blog with title as subject and an index card/page with unlimited space. The background would be slightly tanned and foxed. There would be a punch hole bottom center. . . sort of a steampunk version of the online card catalog.

That reminds me, I saw a great animated short film directed by Anthony Lucas called "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello" on The 2005 Academy Award Short Films Collection. It's done in a visually rich kind of shadow theatre with steam-powered airships, lots of gears, gauges and pulleys amidst people in profile. The city of Gothia is being "ravished by a sickness of appalling virulence" as the ship and its crew take off into a sky that looks like foxed paper. A biologist onboard is studying the airmen to determine if the quality of elevation might lead to a cure.

The genre of the film is something called "steampunk" which I had never heard of. There are steampunk novels such as James P. Baylock's Lord Kelvin's Machine and Keith Laumer's Worlds of the Imperium (1962). Do you remember the televison show "The Wild Wild West"? Well, according to what I have read, that is an example of steampunk. . . cool mechanical inventions in a Victorian setting. I'm thinking that Edward Gorey is sort of steampunkish, too.

The silhouette animation style is credited to Lottie Reiniger who wrote a book titled Shadow Theatres and Shadow Films (reprinted 1970). A similar short film by Steffan Schaffler is The Periwig-Maker (1999). Both are beautiful and disturbing!

No comments: