Steampunk | Off Book | PBS


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 artists 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.

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100 thoughts on “Steampunk | Off Book | PBS”

  1. moviedude says:

    introuduced wasn't the word I was looking for, but had a brain fart. Which brings me to wonder if the brain really did fart, that couldn't be good.

    Also to add: I'm just learning about steampunk and am somewhat overwhelmed at all the different possibilities, yet for some reason every time I picture steampunk and western, I get this disturbing image of a giant spider and Will Smith. How do I rid myself of this image? lol.

  2. Knucklehead Studios says:

    try clicking on the gear symbol and lowering the resolution. I have to go where wifi is free like the library & coffee shops which means it's also shared with 10-30 other people. I've gone as low as 360 and the quality is still very good, but it loads faster.

  3. number3665 says:

    True but archery was never "underground" really. It was a means of survival, it was even offered in most schools as a sport, and we are still exposed to it in history classes. With that being said if the only reason you like it is because of a book/movie you're kind of a fake. Something that's really "you" comes to you reguardless of it being popular or not. If you already knew about archery but never gave it a sexond thought until the hunger games says alot about your character.

  4. Ninja Sushi says:

    I later blocked some of youtubes IP addresses and the videos load fully. YouTube likes to throttle videos using their buffer.

  5. Madeleinewith3Es says:

    or Steam Powered Giraffe, or G. D. Falksen, or Girl Genius?

  6. moviedude says:

    I actually wasn't speaking about steampunk specifically. I guess I was arguing the "Anytime things become mainstream they are ruined" line. I don't think something is ruined just because it's become mainstream or popular, it's the perception and response of those. Personally, I feel that a lot of times the reason something is considered ruined due to popularity is the way the members feel and how the increased popularity affects the mainstream activity, fashion, lifestyle, etc. 🙂

  7. moviedude says:

    But yeah I can see where people might feel strongly about steampunk. I hope people can appreciate the increased interest and not feel like any new exposure is going to ruin the roots.

    I'm interested in learning about it, and have enjoyed it so far, and I feel it's one of the premiere inclusive groups out there. So far there are not a lot of 'rules' with steampunk which is good, but I'm sure there are a few. 🙂

  8. number3665 says:

    Yea, as long as it stays true to it's roots and people don't let it change and become something different than was intended then ok. Because we have all seen how things start out amazing then get ruined when they're turned into something it wasn't supposed to be.

  9. natesdevices says:

    i prefer grounded steampunk over the more fantastical stuff you see here. no random goggles, no magic, period accurate assemblies of fashion and style, and a very real world aesthetic.

  10. Tan Tan Rahlf Comedy says:

    Comment feed is still looking good, so I might as well ask. I'm looking to get a booth at a few steampunk conventions next year (2014) where I'll be taking portraits for anyone who would like. I've done some research on my own, but does anyone know where I can access blueprints for the early cameras so I can make my own? Also, is this something y'all would be interested in, if I was to do it?

  11. thestylishlad says:

    Does anyone know the name of the song at 0:41?

  12. tubertomp says:

    "Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown." -Jess Nevins

  13. Tina GearSmith says:

    "Steampunk is what happens when goths discover Tesla!" ~Optivion

  14. tubertomp says:

    i thought a great steampunk inspired putdown today when i went to a
    dunkin donuts and the guy that was working there was talking like a sailor (he was also wearing a shirt that said 'friends don't let friends drink starbucks'): "why don't try talking like that while you're driving around the bourgeoisie in a steam powered cart, it'd be off the the coal mines with you…then you'd learn respect"

  15. Derek Lyons says:

    Wonderful, loved this!!

  16. joesibley03 says:

    …pugs lol

  17. The Steampunk Queen of the Silent Age says:

    This is a great pbs documentary just love it! #steampunkqueen

  18. KlokworKDUSK says:

    But regardless of how much it becomes popularised, you'll still have the innovative minds driving it as the original heart once had; continuing to mend, alter, and expand upon the basis of the idea. Everything evolves and grows

  19. Alex Re says:

    artist: Anitek, Song Reflection, Album Anitek Instrumentals Vol.4. you find it on jamendo

  20. thestylishlad says:

    thank you so much!

  21. Jeff Ragsdale says:

    2:05 – That's just a regular bassoon. The contrabassoon is a bigger contraption.

  22. trynextmonday says:

    You mean like how SpikeTV unearthed furries? Now everyone thinks they're nothing but a bunch of perverts who are turned on by anthropomorphic animals?

  23. meow98 says:

    So could you say Steampunk is 1800's James Bond? I do not understand any real definition of it, and no one has the same answer.

  24. LupineGamer says:

    Seeing as steampunk is kinda futuristic for its time period it is kinda like James Bond abit

  25. steini19o4 says:

    Steampunk is not possible without a huge, poor and oppressed worker class.

    So it was never likely to happen. What could have been possible is a society relying on water as a energy transmitter with a central energy source /distributor. It is a lot easier to use and the system is easier to maintain than using steampower.

    Also very detailed art would be limited to a very rich upper class.

    I think the best representation of steampunk in reality is the movie metropolis from 1927.

  26. HarriHaffi animation says:

    kinda cool…


  27. fernanda romero-valdespino says:

    The main problem I think this has is that things are beautiful, but expensive.

  28. Amber Ruther says:

    For the music, they should have shown Steam Powered Giraffe!

  29. Sperk Sticker says:


  30. Marco Ansing says:

    Fantastic. Every Steampunk has it's one way to explain steampunk, and that's it: Steampunk. 😀

  31. Do Not Pirate says:

    NO! DAMN Bio shock

  32. The Steampunk Queen of the Silent Age says:

    This is a very informative entertaining piece. Love it! #steampunkqueen

  33. Daniel Jones says:

    1:11 Is that Doctor Emmet Brown in the backround?

  34. Craz says:

    Dat painting…2:50

  35. Original sloth farm says:

    Lemme guess…you're a hipster? I don't agree. Just because something goes mainstream, it doesn't mean it completely loses all value and integrity. It just means that it's generalized, refined by the masses to its most core ideas. What you thought was "real heart" may simply have been a superiorist facade adopted to make "mainstreamers" like me feel stupid and to solidify your hipsterism. Or, I may have miscalculated, and delivered my social sermon to a complete non-hipster. Dang.

  36. number3665 says:

    Actually I hate hipsters don't know why just do. And sorry but your analogy is wrong. I say that because it's true. They're not refined when Hollywood gets a hold of something they ruin it. Some things can't be updated or go mainstream because it is ruined. Blues cant be updated Rap went mainstream and sucks. Just look at fashion now toothpick thin models sporting trashy clothes that were tampered with and modernized that were once classy the way they were. In most cases mainstream is a parasite

  37. Razarer says:

    So basically Bioshock Infinite.

  38. Taylor .Wadsworth says:

    In your opinion

  39. Taylor .Wadsworth says:

    And what's with the hate on hipsters

  40. mew19forever says:

    I love Steampunk ^^

  41. jew63088 says:

    As far as music goes I'm more of an Abney Park guy myself

  42. wetlknbouteskimos says:

    I can't paint shit and call it art

  43. Keepskatin says:

    I randomly found steampunk searching for a non popular game to see if it was on steam for pc,but my chrome browser typed in steampunk so I searched it,and found a new way life.This usually happens when I'm on THC. o.O,but I wasn't on THC O.o

  44. Keepskatin says:

    Jealous?This is better than hipster.

  45. The Beast of Sweden says:

    give me give me give me im crying caus nowhere in sweden you can find outfits guns or shit 🙁

  46. Nightmareprinny says:

    åååh är du från Sverige?^^ att göra en steampunk dräkt behöver väl inte vara så svårt? o.o beror på hur detaljerad du vill. ta en skjorta, byxor och väst som bas och bygg upp därifrån^^ kolla många bilder och fundera på hur du får till steampunk känslan^^

    kolla på DeviantART hur du gör egna steampunk goggles^^

    visste du att vi ska ha ett steampunk konvent här i Sverige? O.O kolla

  47. Nightmareprinny says:

    Aaaaah O.o hehehe^^ synd att du inte kunde åka .__.

  48. The Beast of Sweden says:

    Hade ja haft pengar och tid hade ja men tyvärr 🙁 de borde ha något i malmö med vore coolt som sci-fi mässan fast med Steampunk 😀

  49. Danie P. says:

    thanks, this was way better then the crap info videos
    i've been watching here on youtube.

  50. Yippie says:

    In an easy way. Steampunk is a way of living, culture.

  51. Joni says:

    its sad there isnt so many steampunk movies

  52. kingnuking says:

    I was about to protest; but come to think of it.. you're right.. I can only think of two or three. Well, two I know the names, the third one, I don't know the title.

  53. Joni says:

    like i said 🙂

  54. Michael Young says:

    Yeah, but Bioshock is defiantly not the first medium to use steampunk. Not sure who did, but I remember seeing steam punk in the movie wild wild west. Shits crazy

  55. RedeemerDutch says:

    Try checking out a webseries called "Dirigible Days." They only have 5 episodes, but it's pretty good.

  56. Joni says:

    thx for info

  57. JWBurde16 says:

    Baba BOOEY baba BOOEY!

  58. Jay Van Alstyne says:

    Yup. And Guns of Icarus. Check that one out.

  59. Jay Van Alstyne says:

    Wait, so PBS talks about steampunk now AND mentions ponies? How much have I been missing out on all these years?

  60. World to Win says:

    No, Bioshock Infinite is DieselPunk.

  61. Glenn Heston says:

    Ok, so you're a bunch of flakes. So what.

  62. peter burczyk says:

    It's technology is based off technology from the 1800's therefore it's steampunk, the rest of the games in the franchise are dieselpunk because it's based off technology from the 1930's to 1950's.

  63. World to Win says:

    So, the first one is Steampunk?

  64. Apprehended Potato says:

    i still dont know what the fuck this shit is

  65. sai76 says:

    Is this inspired by the Japanese animation Steamboy?

  66. ProgressTheSeries says:

    We love alternate history!

  67. ProgressTheSeries says:

    YES! Steampunk Santa!

  68. DuskWinter14 says:

    No. Steampunk has always been a subgenre (and apaprently, subculture) for a very long time, as far as 1800 I think. If anything, Steamboy was inspired by this.

  69. Yessum says:

    Steampunk has been around, technically, since the mid 1950's. Still, preceding Steamboy.

  70. Animfantastic says:

    Wow, Steampunk-tastic!!!

  71. Sean OConnell says:

    Nice video on Steampunk culture.

  72. dominick smith says:

    I like the idea of steampunk

  73. Nelly says:

    I'm proud to say i'm steampunk.

  74. suicideposter says:

    The thing I don't like about steampunk is how inbred the aesthetics tend to get, for example for some reason someone may think a WW2 fighter plane is steampunk(which makes no sense at all)  and someone else may copy it because it is apparently steampunk and now you got people that can't differentiate steampunk from dieselpunk. I say just look at photographs from the 1860s to 1910s if you want inspiration because the aesthetics of steampunk have been glamorized to nonsense.

  75. fullmetal fanboy says:

    Does anyone know the title of the track that ran from 00:31 to 01:28? I know the artist that did it I just can't find that track.

  76. Thomas Lang says:

    Some one tell me where the artist who track is on this video. Music sounds awesome 

  77. cam the cam man cam says:

    This video would be more aptly titled "5 1/2 Minutes of Extreme Autism"

  78. William Baggins says:

    Does anyone know what the background music is?

  79. Laura Erwin says:

    Are there any research studies about steampunk doing a thesis on this, trying to contact local communities

  80. StrohHutDommi says:

    As a Mechanic i like the vintage Style of Gears and Steamengines, theres to much Electronic today and the Technologies are not so fascinating as the Steampunk Visions from the old Times, i also like the MLP Extra at the End 😀

  81. KodenameKrusty says:

    I admire the people who can cross worlds into the Steampunk realm if only for a little while at a time. I've never done anything Steampunk but, after watching steampunk related videos and short films over the last couple of months I find the desire or the idea of the way I used to think as a small boy many years ago when my imagination used to run wild returning to my aged self so I can create something of my own in this Steampunk world.

  82. Crazy Onlinegamer says:

    Steampunk is for anyone who can't do other cosplays so let's just make it up as they go. 

  83. Bluelemonzz says:

    I don't quite get this steampunk thing. It is a fad that's lasting longer than initially expected. Sure, I appreciate the steam engine days and steam powered devices, but to have your life centered almost obsessively around it is just weird.

  84. Rappy Mcrapperson's Fun Shack says:

    anything is possible with your parents trust fund

  85. CHistrue says:

    Unlike transhumanism, which is gauche, steampunk is actually beautiful.

  86. AWizardMummyandMartian ImUnique says:

    To me being a post apocalyptic Tinker Bell, with a taste for all things vintage. With ofcourse science fiction.

  87. Joe Benavides says:

    I think the clothing is awesome!  A Steampunk Party would be sweet!

  88. Batshit Gracey says:

    i get it now, it's pretty cool

  89. Linda Goulder says:

    As a living historian who has over ten years of experience researching both the victorian/post victorian era, as well as participating in victorian living history events both wearing civil war garments as well as post-civil war garments-(bustle dresses). Not to mention recreating these period impression wear garments using well documented historical research and constantly being invited to give living history talks, I can honestly say that there is very, very, little to nothing in this documentary which even comes close to the victorian era. This documentary is more of a concept of modern abstract artistic format which meets post modern art which in it's own right is great.
    To be cont…

  90. Linda Goulder says:

    The victorian period followed very specific social rules and norms which don't exist in this documentary. For example women as a general rule never wore pants nor pants suits it just wasn't done.  Any woman caught wearing a man's suit in the victorian era was considered crazy and often put in jail for violating existing laws against women wearing men's suits in public or she was locked up in an asylum. While goggles have been around for centuries, the color of the glass in the goggles is incorrect for that period of time. Ruby glass goggles didn't exist in the victorian era, the only colors for glass in goggles/eyeglasses for that day and age were mostly clear.  Emerald green glass for eye wear did exist in the victorian period but it was more expensive mainly because it was made of ground emeralds. Not one women in this documentary is wearing a bustle dress nor a civil war dress which were commonly worn by proper ladies of the time period.
    Modern Denim Jeans as seen being worn in this documentary didn't exist in the victorian period and Jean Cloth was a wool/cotton mix and scratchy as hell. 
    to be cont..

  91. Linda Goulder says:

    Women of the victorian period wore very little lace during the victorian period. Women of proper upbringing never wore make up it wasn't done during the victorian period. Only women of ill repute painted their faces. Modern shoes such as clogs, modern boots etc.. with plastic or modern rubber tread soles didn't exist in the victorian era. By victorian standards, the fight sequence between a man and lady in this video is considered improper and unbecoming a proper lady. Proper ladies of the victorian era didn't attempt to start fights with men because if they did, often these types of women were considered nuttier than rat crap in a pistachio factory and thrown in prison or the nut house. The inventions are definitely post modern works of art but in no way resemble invensions of the victorian period. 
    The dancing in the video in no way resembles the quadrilles, reels and waltz's etc.. of the victorian era. The dancing is more consistent with Modern Interpretive Dance whose roots go back to the early 1920's and was pioneered by famed dancer Isadora Duncan. The term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue in cheek variant of cyberpunk. It seems to have been coined by science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates, 1983); James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986); and himself (Morlock Night, 1979, and Infernal Devices, 1987)—all of which took place in a 19th-century (usually Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of such actual Victorian speculative fiction as H. G. Wells' The Time Machine.
    There is no historical reference to the term Steampunk being associated with the victorian era, nor does it originate within the victorian era.This video is a perfect example of a comic con/sci-fi society following the rules and norms of sci-fi and the realm of fantasy only. In it's own right, Steampunk is perfectly fine for what it is a sci-fi/larping fantasy society:)

  92. jackson Murray says:

    How does something like this remain so indie how are there not movies and main stream literature littering my floor

  93. Tj the Gamer says:

    This is so cool!

  94. Ella B says:

    The painting at 4:36min is "Boy and Rabbit" by Henry Raeburn (1756-1823)

  95. Jack BeFlippen says:

    Steam Chest would love to advertise for this show! we are a steampunk subscription chest! hit us up on :

  96. Alan A.C. Paredes says:

    It is very disappointing that the Steampunk era never did happened but thankfully there are a lot of movies, tv, shows, books, and people building stuff that really brings Steampunk alive!

  97. Ethan Mallory says:

    This is why I support Trump's decision to drop your funding.

  98. BenQuirobie Quiratman says:

    very creative art take your junk to be made useful again

  99. Sixtwozero Seveneightsixfive says:

    The title should be "Steamdorks"

  100. John Smith says:

    Other than envy, wishful thinking and yet another opportunity to steal other people ideas what on earth do americans know about the industrial revolution?

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