Time Machines: Steampunk in Contemporary Art

Barratt, Caroline Cason (2010). Time Machines: Steampunk in Contemporary Art. Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies, 3(1) pp. 167–188.

URL: http://neovictorianstudies.com/


Although discussions of steampunk frequently include literature and film, contemporary art is generally excluded from critical conversations about steampunk’s aesthetics and themes. This essay identifies several artists whose work resonates with and can be illuminated by steampunk paradigms. Specifically, Tim Hawkinson’s and Arthur Ganson’s kinetic sculptures reveal pre-millennial (and ongoing) anxieties concerning the loss of the human – and even the apocalyptic loss of humankind in general – which aligns with similar concerns articulated in steampunk. By linking Hawkinson, Ganson, and steampunk in terms of philosophy and aesthetics, this essay argues that all three warn of an inhuman future, where humankind is subsumed by the machine.

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