London is Calling

This is a post about two things. The Telectroscope that you must rush to see before it is gone on June 15th and the new design movement called Steampunk that it is reminiscent of.

Last week at staff meeting, Katie told us about a telescope that allowed you to supposedly see through the earth to London. This purported device was installed in Brooklyn in the south shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. As luck would have it, we just so happened to find ourselves in the neighborhood this weekend and decided to check it out.

Erupting from the wooden piers we found a massive, Victorian-esque device, but when one peered inside its 4′ diameter lens we found a digital image of Londoners waving back at us. They were standing in front of a similar device at Tower Bridge.

I found the piece to be part Skype video conference, which I never grow tired of. As well as, playground sound tube—the kind where you talk into a tube and then hear back someone on the other side. We discovered that the game of “mimic what I’m doing” was a great way to prove that our communications with our London partners really was in “real time”.

The project was realized by Paul St. George who discovered his great-grandfathers 1884 plans to build a transatlantic tunnel so that he could see New York without ever having to leave London. Apparently the elder St. George even went so far as to start digging this tunnel. Fast forward 124 years and there are now are far easier ways of achieving this goal.

Even though Paul utilized the latest technology, he remained true to his great-grandfather’s plans for the viewing device. The result is an example of the design movement called Steampunk where people are merging the latest technology with the tactile experience and “romance” of Victorian wares.

The name Steampunk comes from a blending of a time where most industry was powered by steam merged with the new ideas of customization and DIY or “punking” things out. For example this customized laptop. We saw many examples of this at Burning Man last year and I can only expect to see more this year as well.

For now however, I suggest that you run to see the Telectroscope at the end of Cadman Plaza West in Brooklyn or Shand Street in London before this piece also becomes a part of history.