Steampunk in the Boston Phoenix

16.05.2008 #Steampunk

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The 19th century ushered in the era of the amateur: a wild-eyed tinkerer in a lab had the capacity to stumble upon a discovery that just might alter society, a common theme paralleled in Victorian and Gothic fiction and, now, in Steampunk. “I find the optimism of Steampunk rather refreshing,” says Rich Nagy, a/k/a Datamancer, a popular Steampunk artisan originally based in New Jersey but now living in California who was represented at the Maker Contraptor’s Lounge. “Steampunk has a way of making technology, which is becoming more transparent and taken for granted every day, seem novel and fun again,” adds Nagy. That much is clear in his finely wrought pieces, like the “Computational Engine” computer casemod and his sophisticated “Steampunk Victorian Laptop,” a Hewlett-Packard ZT1000 laptop with a clockwork-under-glass display that, when it’s closed, looks like an ornate antique music box. It turns on with a clock-winding key. In effect, Steampunk is poised to bring the proletariat craftsman his 21st-century renaissance.