“Cave ab homine unius libri”
[Be careful of the person who only owns one book]
– Latin Proverb
“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
Artwork by Josephine Wall
A few things about Steampunk…
It’s described as literary genre (science fiction or fantasy) that includes social or technological aspects of the 19th century.
It has an influence of the Victorian era, with an adventurous-industrial twist.
You may recognize the style in graphic novels such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and movies like Sherlock Holmes.
“To me, it’s essentially the intersection of technology and romance.” – Jake von Slatt
Those drawn to this style have handcrafted everything from jewelry to cars and much more following the same design aesthetic characteristics: Using materials like Brass, copper, glass and polished wood; and engraving, etching, and adding details over more detail. Sometimes it features anachronistic innovations; like the use of antique, or obsolete artifacts. Such pieces bring to mind the worlds of authors such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne.
“Steampunk simply embodies a time and a place. The time… the late 19th century. The place… a steam powered world, where air travel by fantastical dirigibles is as common as traveling by train or boat (or submarine). A place where national interests are vastly different than our own version of history. A place where the elegant and refined are as likely to get pulled into a grand adventure, as the workers, ruffians, and lower classes. A place where the idea of space travel is not so far fetched. A place where lost civilizations are found and lost again. A place where anything is possible, and science can be twisted to meet ones own ends.”
–Joshua A. Pfeiffer
HAVING A COKE WITH YOU
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles
and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it
Quick Reference Guide:
All four cardinal gems share two traits:
1. They are translucent
2. They have a very high score on the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness
The value of a particular gem is usually determined by evaluating its: color, cut, clarity, and carat weight (otherwise known as the “4 C’s).” The color category (which is comprised of hue, saturation, and tone) is a very important factor when determining the value of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. When evaluating the color of a diamond, the highest rating is given to those that are completely colorless.
Rubies and Sapphires are both varieties of the mineral corundum, or aluminum oxide.
A ruby is essentially a red sapphire, its red color is a product of adding chromium. The deeper the red is, the rarer and more expensive the gem. The sapphire’s variety of colors have to do with the level of iron or titanium in the mineral. The most well-known color of sapphire is deep blue; however, other colors include yellow, pink, and orange. The pink and orange sapphire is called a Padparadscha.
Emeralds are a variety of the mineral beryl. They score slightly lower on the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness than the other three stones, but they are still very strong. Much like the ruby, the Emerald’s gorgeous green color comes from chromium as well.
Diamonds are a colorless variety of the mineral carbon. They score the highest of all minerals on the Mohs scale. The diamond’s name derives from the ancient Greek word for “unbreakable.”
Luxembourg filmmaker Jeff Desom graduated from the Bournemouth Arts Institute in 2007. His senior project featured the experimental pianist Volker Bertelmann, a.k.a. Hauskchka. Morgenrot is an animated short film about a composer who’s plagued by writer’s block. Desom uses the image of a burning piano dropping off a building to serve as a recurring dream of the composer. The animation is reconfigured from early twentieth century photographs from the vast collection of the Library of Congress and old postcards of New York purchased at a Parisian flea market. “The grainy, smoky, memory-laden and exquisite short film unveils evocative, slightly ominous imagery of Manhattan. It breathes with an air of poetic déjà vu, like a dream you’ve just been jarred awake from and, even though you know you’ve just experienced it, you can’t quite remember the outcome.”
Another brilliant piece of storytelling by Jeff Desom is the short film The Key. It’s been nearly three years since Jeff Desom’s video for Morgenrot by Hauschka – aka German pianist Volker Bertelmann – left a lasting impression. The burning upright piano falling continuously from the top of a skyscraper in sepia-tinged Depression-era Manhattan remains a powerful image and Morgenrot went on to win awards and a UK MVA nomination.
Now comes the director and musician’s latest collaboration – and that upright piano is back. There’s also that distinctly between-the-wars period feel, but that’s where the similarities with the VFX-fuelled minimalism of Morgenrot ends. This is a wonderful, beautifully-made comedy-drama, driven by an almost-Chaplinesque performance by its principle performer, Summer Shapiro (who in my opinion bears an uncanny resemblance to Lady Gaga, sans masks and costumes).
Despite being an unaccompanied female without a functioning vehicle, she manages to transport the piano all over some breathtaking landscapes in Luxembourg – Jeff’s homeland. And as he explains, his familiarity with the settings helped him to get great production value with very limited resources.
And it will ultimately become clear why he called his charming story The Key, even though the track is Children, from Hauschka’s latest album Foreign Landscapes.
Title: Hauschka “The Key”
Track: Children (Fat Cat)
With: Summer Shapiro
Director: Jeff Desom
DoP: Jean-Louis Schuller
Steadicam: Olivier Koos, Raoul Henri
Editor: Chris Coupland
Costume: Carole Pochard
Jeff Desom on making The Key
“We shot during four days pretty much all over Luxembourg. It’s kind of a small place, you don’t have to drive for more than an hour to get anywhere. And since there wasn’t much time to prepare, it helped to know all these locations around my hometown.
“Summer Shapiro (the piano mover) and I met through Hauschka – she’s a physical comedian from San Fransisco,” he continues. “The idea of moving a piano seemed to lend itself to that genre. She was touring Europe at the time so we decided to go for it. I gutted an old piano and put a set of serious wheels on it.
“To keep things flexible, fast and cheap, crew was reduced to a bare minimum. We were like a bunch of bank robbers wherever we went. Get the piano out of the van, shoot and be gone long before anyone could call the cops. Summer was a true sport, the piano was still quite heavy and she took away more than one scar.”
Jeff Desom created a visual installation based on footage from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954). This is what happens when you extract all of the film’s footage shot from Jimmy Stewart’s point of view, stitch together and reconstruct the pieces and place them on a single plane.
“I dissected all of Hitchcock’s Rear Window and stiched it back together in After Effects. I stabilized all the shots with camera movement in them. Since everything was filmed from pretty much the same angle I was able to match them into a single panoramic view of the entire backyard without any greater distortions. The order of events stays true to the movie’s plot.” – Jeff Desom