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"Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

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"Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  HAC on Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:36 pm

As I've been going through the texts and images for my steampunk "Steam Primer", I have noticed something. In the Victorain steam era, I find little or no occurrance of goggles, or for that matter, gears as a steam power transport mechanism.
Goggles appear to come into mainstream life during the Edwardian era, with adoption by early pilots, motorcyclists, and automobilists. I've looked through my collections of Victorian steam equipment pictures,(railroads, mills, enginemen, etc, and can not see one instance of anyone wearing goggles). Even in the steam loco mainstream era, you rarely see an engine driver sporting goggles.
Gearing as it pertains to steam, was typically used mainly as the final drive in traction engines, and in some instances, as a direct drive to the rolling mills in steel works. The main form of power transmission was lineshafting (or , as in the case of pit head winding engines, steel cabling). Gears were most common in the final drive of traction and ploughing engines. Large industrial power transmission gearing was expensive, and in mills and shops lineshafting had the advantages of being easily extensible, and had a built-in safety factor, due to the ability to slip beofre jamming solid.
So, where did these two icons of steampunk actually get their introdcution into steampunk, as they have little to do with steam enginerring, as it was in Victorian times?

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Harold
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  JingleJoe on Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:43 pm

Welders, the welders who worked on big ships wore goggles, I saw a painting of them from 1900-ish in a local art gallery Smile
However I do not think there is a link between these things and steam power directly, its more a steampunk link- in that steam power and goggles and gears are all steampunk things.
The gears come from pocket watches (and other clockwork things) which are a great symbol of the old days and goggles are just cool Wink
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  HAC on Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:57 pm

As an aside, in watchmaker's parlance, gears are always called "wheels", and the current issue saftey glasses (goggles, if you will) at the railroad I worked at are based on Gargoyles Safety galsses and sunglasses..

But the question remains.. who started "goggles and gears"t in SP, and when?

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Harold
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  VonHart on Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:25 pm

I think SP as a genre is subjective. People who are steampunks likely had the fascination before they ever heard the term "Steampunk" so it likely developed concurrently in several people's psyche.

Steampunk as I see it is more a "future that wasn't" sort of thing. I don't believe it's completely restricted to the realm of steam engines and the like. We tend to appreciate the finer elements of design and functionality, transparancy in design as it were. If you open a watch, or other gear driven device, you can see whats going on. I think gears (at least for me) are a reminder of what was, the simpler times when things were made by hand and people took a great deal of pride in their handi-work.

As for goggles, I think a lot of the steampunk scene is made up of makers of things. We enjoy the aesthetics of the victorian era and we make things that emulate that look. Goggles are used by those who make things. Its a natural evolution us makers to modify something we are using anyway to fit the aesthetics we appreciate. Some welders paint their masks with skulls, we make our goggles from brass. I, for one, have never seen a set of goggles which were actually made from brass.

I don't do the whole costume thing. I don't dress up as a steampunk. I wear mechanical watches, because I appreciate the design and tactile sensation you get from winding them. I like gears because I can see what's happening. If you open most things made today, you see a mess of wires and a battery. I have a set of vintage goggles. they're wilson safety goggles. I modified them with hexagonal arms which are made of brass. Again, it's an aesthetic thing. I prefer the brass look to the steel they came with.

I think we as steampunks each have our own definition of what steampunk is, and personally, I have a moderate interest in steam and the like, but I've always been more drawn to clockwork.

The reason I enjoy the genre so much is that I long for the times for more generalization in one's profession. In the early 1900's the technology was so much simpler. One person could be an engineer working on steam and a clock maker. The time lends itself to the mad scientist tinker
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  Lady Penelope on Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:38 pm

I can't speak for other steampunk aficionados, only for myself. Personally, the historical fashion aesthetic I'm most attracted to would be the late Victorian and early Edwardian time, shading a bit into what would be considered more "dieselpunk," so goggles would be a bit more "in period" for the sorts of things that appeal to me from those times (s/a early aviation, early automobiles, etc.) Granted, I'm not much for wearing goggles with every single article of steampunk style clothing myself. I wouldn't, for instance, wear them with Victorian or Edwardian inspired evening wear, but if I were dressing as an inventor or an aviatrix, then sure, protective eyewear would make sense in either context.

The attraction of gears, for me, is that I'm fascinated with the inner workings of machinery and gadgetry, and I love to see how all the parts fit together and work as a whole. Again, I'm not really that much into wearing gears as decoration or jewelry objects (although now and then I see a piece of jewelry or fabric decoration that I do happen to like and think is nicely done); it's seeing the functioning watch or machine that gives me pleasure. And it doesn't really matter to me if that object is Victorian or something as ancient as the Antikythera device.

Of course, I'm rather a Johnny-come-lately to steampunk, and I'm sure my views on the matter are hardly one-size-fits-all.
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  Lady Penelope on Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:44 pm

VonHart wrote:
Steampunk as I see it is more a "future that wasn't" sort of thing. I don't believe it's completely restricted to the realm of steam engines and the like. We tend to appreciate the finer elements of design and functionality, transparancy in design as it were. If you open a watch, or other gear driven device, you can see whats going on. I think gears (at least for me) are a reminder of what was, the simpler times when things were made by hand and people took a great deal of pride in their handi-work.

Yep, I'll second every bit of that paragraph.


I think we as steampunks each have our own definition of what steampunk is, and personally, I have a moderate interest in steam and the like, but I've always been more drawn to clockwork.


Me too, and to inventions (and humankind's penchant for inventing) in general, whether we're talking about DaVinci's machines, or Hero of Alexandria's, or ancient siege weaponry, or Roman-era technology and surgical arts. 'Sall good. Laughing
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  andygates on Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:15 pm

Thinking to the etymology of the tropes, I am drawn to Babbage: steampunk fiction has a love affair with mechanical calculating engines, and the original from which those locomotive-sized clockwork cogitators are spawned, the ur-Engine, is a big old frame of stacked gears and ratchets and big clockwork loveliness.

Then there's the Industrial Revolution, which underpins it all - that Victorian "big engineering" like the lock-gate mechanisms still in use over here, heavy iron gears macroscopic and oily. If a Victorian waterway is all be-geared and riveted, then a pseudo-Victorian airship hangar or tennis court or bordello ought to be be-geared and riveted as well, to claim its tactile heritage.

The goggles, I have no answer for. They just look cool; I think that's a graphic-arts affectation.
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  SaintSeptum on Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:41 pm

andygates wrote:Thinking to the etymology of the tropes, I am drawn to Babbage: steampunk fiction has a love affair with mechanical calculating engines, and the original from which those locomotive-sized clockwork cogitators are spawned, the ur-Engine, is a big old frame of stacked gears and ratchets and big clockwork loveliness.

Then there's the Industrial Revolution, which underpins it all - that Victorian "big engineering" like the lock-gate mechanisms still in use over here, heavy iron gears macroscopic and oily. If a Victorian waterway is all be-geared and riveted, then a pseudo-Victorian airship hangar or tennis court or bordello ought to be be-geared and riveted as well, to claim its tactile heritage.

I'd agree with that, as well as the previous posts.

I think the bigger issue is Steampunks' origin in the literary ("Edisonade") trope of the lone Scientist (noble or mad) or tinkerer. In that fictional context, eye protection makes sense, and things like automobiles and aviation came along earlier. Thus... goggles.

Regarding gears, I think gears of whatever size are, in a way, sort of an archetypal symbol of bygone technology. Of course clockwork and big greasy gears were fairly common in Victorian times, but it's really down to the gracefulness of well made clockwork.

Plus, if you think about it, pocket watches were sort of THE ubiquitous Victorian accessory.

That's my take anyway,
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  Dr Quack on Wed Oct 29, 2008 12:02 am

Nice point H,

From a historical point of view, gear chains tend to be too complex or too inefficient for power transmission puposes. Also it's easier to construct drives using cranks, sliders, rope/belt drives etc. Gear chains only become useful when one is looking to create mechanisms with closely regulated fixed ratios of movement between the various parts.
I'm thinking in terms of machine tools here but also of instrumentation and measurement.
As in all things, one should tailor ones designs to the requirements of the job in hand.

From a steampunk perspective, many of us come to the subject from an appreciation of the aesthetic of these devices. Gears look good, therefore we build our schemes around them.

Since much of our art is devoted to the fantastic and the practically unfeasible, (though it means most when a real, working object results) I don't have any great issue with this way of doing things.

As for the goggles question, the increase in general awareness of safety issues is no bad thing and if this can also be a statement of style then all to the good.

I seem to know a lot of people who still take delight in "the old ways" of doing things. Some of the machine tools my friends use would give a safety rep the screaming abdabs.
However, there is much pleasure to be gained from keeping these things alive, so a little nod towards safer working practices is again no bad thing.

Still got both eyes and all his fingers,

Dr. Q.

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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  HAC on Wed Oct 29, 2008 12:47 am

My dear Dr. Q..
I agree that the "old ways and old tech" certainly are more interesting than the new-fangled gim-crackery. As for the whole pocket watch/clockwork ethos, I'm right there, as you can well imagine, with more mechanical timepieces than I can care to remember. As for steam power, its only a lack of money and a machine shop that gets in my way.
My main reaosn for posting, has well answered here, I was just curious as to what kind of an issue steampuinks had (if any, and its seems none) with this slight incongruity, which, I must admit in a "future than never (or might have) happened", probably wouldn;t be an incongruity.
As for safety glassses/goggles, I have several pair, all railroad issue, and use them as needed when working woth anything that might pose an ocular risk..

Ah well, back to editing...

Cheers
Harold
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  OldProfessorBear on Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:40 am

Incongruity is our middle name (so to speak). That's what makes it fun.

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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  Dr Quack on Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:52 am

If all our middle names were "Incongruity", It would rather spoil the effect. So I'm changing mine to "Non-conformity."

Just to resurrect a previous topic, what a great name to send a kid off to school with.

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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  Dusza Beben on Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:30 am

Not much explains steampunk better than our forefather:



DB
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

Post  Lady Penelope on Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:08 am

*falls over giggling*

Mr. Beben, that film clip requires a "Do Not Watch While Corseted" warning! Laughing
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Re: "Origin of Species" or on the Incongruity of Goggles and Gears..

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