Steampunk | Off Book | PBS

Uploaded by PBS on 31.08.2011

The world of steampunk right now is growing. It's hit the tipping point. It's in the mainstream.
It's imagining an alternative direction that the universe took. Victorian,
yet you have these futuristic steam powered contraptions.
Art installation and movement and performance all get sort of
thrown together
so that we're not just creating a world that's in our minds
but we're really just creating that world.
and that we live in it
and then the art comes out of it.
The key element of steampunk is that it was a world that never happened.
The Industrial Revolution took over and we forgot about
how to make things with our hands.
Where steampunk comes in is that it went off in to an alternative timeline
where steam power is still mixed with electrical tesla power
we can make bigger and better things but they're still beautiful, they're still art.
That's the style I've always drawn in,
I've always been attracted to, I have an appreciation for art history and how things were built.
and I try to stay true to that.
Finding these antique pieces,
refurbishing them in to other things,
i've always done that.
If I find a piece and it can't be fixed and built back in to what it was, I repurpose it in to
something new. It is just as beautiful and you can do that with steampunk.
I went to a friend of mine's house and he showed me these things that he'd been making out of
scrap metal and things he had found lying around and he told me this was steampunk.
There were a few connections which brought me in to writing a piece about it. Firstly, the instruments, the french horn and bassoon, things like that.
They all have this complicated plumbing - very much like steampunk design.
He bases the steampunk concept on these instruments - the contrabassoon,
which is a large bass bassoon that has all these crazy metal valves and huge tubing
and when you think about putting that in one of these steampunk scenarios
it really kind of fits the bill.
Above all, I'm really trying to make the sense that it gives you
the richness in the world and takes you beyond the sort of mundane things
of day to day life.

Steampunk is the closest term to and aesthetic I had always been in love with.
We seem to drift toward the Edwardian/Victorian aesthetic a lot
but there's always some flexibility in that.
It is not bound by period, it is informed by it.
I think that allows us a lot of the freedom to create a new space.
This performance is looking at some of the more sinister aspects of Alice in Wonderland. We had two Alices and
the story that we're telling is one of a personality that has been pulled
so hard in two directions
with two conflicting sense of desires
that they've literally been torn.

We've been really interested in the idea that what does it mean to make a nightmare scape.
That's inherently what a haunted house is.
Can we make a contemporary art haunted house?
We take the stuff that people would not necessarily otherwise go to a theater to see and put it in this new context and have people dig it.
And the answer was yes.
There was something about this high level of artistry focused around the steampunk aesthetic
that really resonated. With steampunk, I think a lot of our work has to do with the collision of disparate elements.
Taking things that might not otherwise be contiguous and putting them together
to create new meaning.
Steampunk is happening all around the world and certainly
it's reflection of where we came from.
The greatest thing about taking things that already exist
and imagining them in a different context that they weren't intended for.
It combines something very adventurous
something that is also
very sexy.
Colliding fashion and technology
and putting that
in to myth making.
I hope it is going to be utilized in a good way - that it is going to get more and more
to think about their resources,
think about what we're doing with art history, with our memories.
There is just so much out there and it is growing.