Monday, January 21, 2013

All Hail The Queen!

History and "the past" are really all about context, aren't they?  I was thinking about that today as I finished putting together a wonderful little project called FlipBooKit that I backed on Kickstarter (pictured below.)

FlipBooKit is a "flip book" type of animation device in a little box that is operated via a hand-turned crank on the side.  The animation style brings to mind a Mutoscope and also the ground-breaking work of Eadweard Muybridge.  The late 1800s saw a burst of clever animation devices (including the Thaumatrope, Zoetrope, Pheanakistascope, and Praxinoscope)  that led directly to motion pictures.

It's amazing in our age of 3D and HD video, not to mention animation and video editing software, that these low-tech Victorian-era devices and techniques have such a hold on us. 

Or is it?

Think about how "Steampunk" (essentially a mash-up of Victorian-era styling and cool technologies) has invaded movies, science fiction, art, cosplay, Maker Faires (usually with a designated Steampunk section) and even museum exhibitions!

Since we're on the subject of Victorian-era influences on our modern world, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the brilliant book entitled "The Victorian Internet" by Tom Standage.  (An absolute steal in paperback for only $5.98 at Amazon.  Hurry --- it's a limited supply at this price for some reason.)

Standage argues (quite effectively) that the telegraph (The Victorian "Internet" of the title) actually ushered in many of the advances that we associate with the modern Internet.  Creating New Identities? Hackers? Online Romance? Near Instantaneous Transmission of News Stories?  Been there, done that, and in the time of Queen Victoria, to boot.  (Standage's book takes some of the air out of the puffed-up arguments concerning so-called "digital natives" as well ...)

So all hail Queen Victoria!  (Or at least the years associated with her reign.)  The devices, designs, and technologies in force during the late 1800s have certainly given designers and developers numerous inspirations so many years later.

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