We've all seen the goggles, the brass, the keyboard mods. But a few steampunk projects go above and beyond, boggling the mind and leaving us breathless. Here are ten steampunk projects that succeed in transporting us to other worlds.
Dr.Grordbort's Infallible Aether Oscillators
You may have read about Dr.Grordbort's amazing artillery here before, or perhaps you even had the pleasure of seeing them at Comic-Con. These ray-guns are the careful craftsmanship of WETA designer Greg Broadmore, who has created an entire world for his work to reside in, publishing Dr. Grordborts Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory. Broadmore is also responsible for all of the cool alien contraband tech in District 9. Take a gander at this WETA Informercial for his Infallible Aether Oscillators:
Steampunk TARDIS Console
Livejournal user Douglas442 is working on a project we wish we'd thought of first; a Steampunk TARDIS console. We assume he's building it using a only a sonic screwdriver. Douglas has posted a 3D rendering of the eventual finished project, pictured here. Wouldn't Matt Smith look dandy in his bow tie and tweed at this gleaming console? Assuming, of course, that his Doctor is a bit more competent at flying through time and space than some of his predecessors....
Because we can't get really mention the Doctor without making some mention of the deadly dustbins, here is an amazing little project from Who fan Alex Holden, the base of which is apparently a Dalek Bubble Bath bottle. (And yes, Cyberman Bubble Bath is also available.)
Chronotheric Fluxing Capacitron
It's what makes time travel possible. The inventor (the elusive Absinthetic) explains his revolutionary time-traveling device:
I set forth in a series of experiments, attempting to capture that energy and use it towards my research on creating tears in the fabric of time. Though I cannot divulge the exact method, I will grant you the final product: lightning in a bottle! With this incredible success, after much trial and error of course (and three dead cats), I had the 1.21 gigawatts necessary to power the Chronotheric Fluxing Capacitron and send myself back (and forward!) through the time-aether. A rotating "time dial" allows me to set the exact date and time I wish to arrive in (to the nearest hour)
Bringing the dystopian deskware of Brazil to life, our next entry is the incredible Electriclerk . According to the Make: blog, The ElectriClerk is a functional 1988 MacSE with a 1923 Underwood typewriter base, which craftsman and creator Andrew Leman says was "built for a game of Cthulhu Lives! that has yet to be played." Leman is a multi-talent prop maker and designer, and we shudder to think what awesomeness could ensue if he and WETA's Broadmore ever collaborated.
Based on the infamous Victorian hoax, the Telectroscope is ostensibly a transatlantic tunnel, allowing viewers in London to peer through a giant 'telescope' and see viewers in New York, and vice versa. The web-cam installation appeared in both cities last year courtesy of artist Paul St. George and the Artichoke Trust, whose mechanical innovations and gigantic inventions are the next two entries on our list.
The Sultan's Elephant
The brainchild of the Artichoke Trust and theater company Royal de Luxe,The Sultan's Elephant is both dazzling performance art and a masterpiece of steampunk conceptual design. The first performance took place in Nantes, France for the Jules Verne Centennial, and involved a massive mechanical elephant, a time-traveling little girl and her rocketship. The show was performed in London in 2006 to much fanfare. If you haven't already seen it, check out this video of the Elephant in London:
Machines of the Isle of Nantes
Artichoke and Royal de Luxe set up shop in a vast shipyard and warehouse in Verne's hometown of Nantes to construct the Sultan's Elephant and other fantastical mechanical contraptions for our enjoyment. Along the way the Machines de l'île factory became a tourist attraction in itself, and in 2007 became a permanent exhibit hall and museum for the Royal de Luxe crew. The museum is home to, among other oddities, a full-scale replica of the Sultan's Elephant and a replica of the giant mechanical spider known as La Princesse. The crew is currently working on a giant merry-go-round of undersea creatures (including a giant squid!) which will debut in Spring 2010 - book tickets now!
The Swimming Cities
The Swimming Cities are something out of Terry Gilliam's daydreams, part Mad Max fantasy and partWaterworld reality. The first iteration, Swimming Cities of The Switchback Sea, is a collaborative project by notable artists and eccentrics such as Swoon, Chicken John, and Kinetic Steam Works crew. A flotilla of seven sister raft-cities, hand-crafted and cobbled together with everything including the kitchen sink, they voyaged down the Hudson River river last year and put on various multi-media performances from there decks. This year, the gang reunited and built three vessels christened The Swimming Cities of Serenissima, and sailed the rafts across the Adriatic sea to crash the Venice Biennale. We eagerly await the next installation by these merry mischief makers.
We couldn't complete this list without mentioning the Treehouse, could we? Brought to you by the fine purveyors of steam-powered wonder, Kinetic Steam Works, the Treehouse emerged as a installation for Burning Man 2007 and has since become something of a Steampunk celebrity. The 30' tall Treehouse has been traveling, and most recently showed up at Coachella. Members of KSW are currently in Nevada, assembling the Raygun Gothic Rocket in Black Rock City.