What if the Victorians (with their steam engine industrial aesthetic) had had access to digital technologies? What if a Victorian design sensibility had not been eclipsed by modernism and its minimalist aesthetic? What if technologies such as dirigibles, analog computers, or digital mechanical computers (such as Charles Babbage’s Analytical engine) were still with us?
Steam-powered computer mice, clockwork hearts, brass goggles, and the latest state-of-the-art eye-pod?
Enter “steampunk”. Subject of an exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, UK.
My daughter Molly is familiar with all this – “The Subtle Knife” was one of her favorite novels.
Think too of Jules Verne, and the way he imagined the future.
Counterfactuals combined with the futurology of earlier times. Retro futures. Anachronistic utopias. When archaeological materialities meet science fiction.
Here is the museum’s introduction to the fabulous exhibition of contemporary art.