“An invention with no philosophy behind it is a curse.”

This week I finally saw the anime movie of Steamboy (Ôtomo, 2004). Philosophically, it isn’t all that deep. (It seems to be recyling Ôtomo’s same old Japanese nuclear bomb obsession exhibited more interestingly in 1988’s Akira.) But what it does really well is style.

One thing I love is the design style called “retrofuturism” in which artists take images of what past generations thought the future would look like and combine them with contemporary technology. For example, I’m still bummed that we all missed our chance to wear 1950’s sci-fi silver jumpsuits in the year 2000. Steamboy is an example of the subgenre of retrofuturism called “steampunk” which is based on the Victorian sci-fi vision of the future a la Jules Verne and H.G. Welles.

Here‘s a link to an article in Wired magazine about steampunk that includes some pictures of cool stuff, including this computer:It reminds me of a “podtrola” artwork I saw at the Azusa Pacific art gallery in which a student had added an ipod input to the front of an old Victrola.

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