As a person living very far from home at the moment I am so thankful for the internet, and especially networks that post episodes of my favorite shows. It was love at first viewing of the Comedy Central show @Midnight, which is hosted by Chris Hardwick of the Nerdist podcast series. He is fabulously nerdy and a big fan of cosplayers, so it came as no surprise when he dressed up in clever costumes for several episodes of the improv comedy show leading up to Halloween.
In addition to Luke Skywalker Texas Ranger, he also got decked out by Clockwork Couture in a Steampunk Doctor Who ensemble. From a distance, you wouldn’t know he was posing at the Doctor, but as he told the audience, his splendid cravat actually had his name embroidered in Gallfrayan on it. Someone photoshopped Hardwick onto a TARDIS interior and I couldn’t resist posting it.
When I was reading through the program for Weekend at the Asylum I was intrigued by the competition category for “Steam Bears.” These are stuffed animals (mostly bears) that were dressed up or modified especially to reflect the Steampunk aesthetic. Maybe if you make the trip to Asylum VII you can enter one of your own!
The Royal Observatory is probably best known for being the home of the Prime Meridian, but I went there to check out an amazing Steampunk exhibit dedicated to “the longitude question.” Thousands of seamen lost their lives because they couldn’t be sure where they were when they were in the open ocean, so the British Parliament implemented a competition in 1714 and offered a reward of 20,000 pounds to anyone who could figure out how to calculate longitude when out to sea. Little did the Longitude Board know that it would be 50 years before anyone could find the answer.
The exhibit, Longitude Punk’d, is set up as a series of submissions to this contest and is intermixed with the Observatory’s collection of real and sometimes bizarre submissions. There are many buildings in the Greenwich Observatory complex, and this exhibition takes advantage of the historic Flamsteed House that sits on the grounds. There is normally already a gallery dedicated to longitude in the house, but for now the Steampunks have taken over that gallery as well as several other rooms as well as the courtyard to show their amazing contraptions and costumes.
Throughout the house you can read “The Rime of the Ancient Commodore,” which is a whimsical epic poem about one of the artists’ alter ego and his unique quest for the answer to the longitude question. His theory? Animals know exactly where they are, so if you can learn to talk to animals, all you have to do is ask for directions 🙂 Make sure to take the time to watch the series of short films embedded between display cases to meet the artists and find out the ideas behind their amazing creations.
The exhibit costs 8.50, but you also get admission to the Cutty Sark and the complementary and more serious examination of longitude at the Maritime Museum called Ships, Clocks and Stars any time within a month of your first visit. It will run between now and January 2015, so don’t miss your chance to get punk’d!
But even if you aren’t in town in time for the exhibit, there is a ton to see at the observatory for fans of the Victorian era, and I am going to post soon about their permanent galleries as well so stay tuned.
I have heard some hemming and hawing about the costumes in NBC’s Dracula because they aren’t “period” enough. Personally, I think that is part of what makes it steampunk rather than a period drama and therefore way more interesting. I watched a special about the making of the Tudors and I think the costumers on Dracula are taking the same approach: It’s not about historical accuracy, it is about making the audience look at clothes and get an impression about the person wearing them. For instance, records about the real Anne Boleyn show that she was on the forefront of fashion in her day, but how do you capture that for an audience that doesn’t know the difference between silk and satin?
So the costume designers made a compromise between authenticity and modern designs to appeal to the audience and give the impression of her changing status as her look evolved. The same goes for music in movies like Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, these aren’t the original songs or even the original genre of music, but the point is to capture the excitement of the time and place and draw the audience into the world of the film.
And the same goes for NBC’s Dracula. The men’s clothing is absolutely gorgeous and connotes the huge wealth that Dracula and the Order Draco control. Except for during the occasional ball, Mina’s clothes are much plainer than Lucy’s, which brings their different social statuses into focus. Here are some costumes and sets for you to drool over.