Steampunk in the Tank


Plague doctor mask by Tom Banwell.

Last month I wrote a little about the Steampunk: Art of Victorian Futurism exhibition that’s been running since the beginning of October in Beijing, this being the same event that was staged in Seoul earlier in the year. Five of my book cover designs have been featured in these shows, together with some very impressive artworks, designs and constructions by international artists. This week the organisers of the show, Artcenter IDA, sent their own photos of the event.


Locomotive Square.

As mentioned before, the venue is an exhibition space in 751 D-Park outside central Beijing, an area I’ve been told was formerly an industrial complex manufacturing armaments during the Cold War. If we occasionally find that life these days imitates the fictions of JG Ballard or Philip K Dick, 751 D-Park strikes me as a very William Gibson kind of place: Cold War industrial complex transmuted into an international art space—Beijing Design Week is hosted here each year—that on this occasion is showcasing antique science fiction. The 751 website has a map of the area with links to photos and other information. I’m rather taken with “Crached Furnace Square” and “Locomotive Square“.



Live Tank.

The exhibition is staged in Live Tank, a reconditioned containment facility that looks more alarming outside than in. I like the idea of this place as an exhibition venue even if my latent paranoia about industrial hazards can’t help but wonder what it used to contain. If that sounds like a dig at the Chinese, I’ve had similar suspicions when visiting Tate Modern which was formerly Bankside Power Station.


Entrance. The exhibition graphics were designed by Se Byeol Moon and Han Woong Yoon.


Gallery view.

I said earlier that the layout was a little primitive but I now think that was unfair. The Machines de spectacle I saw in 2006 at the Grand Palais in Paris was even more rudimentary, and the Grand Palais is a popular exhibition site. The tank also looks bigger on the inside than it does in exterior views.


And there’s my covers. I approve of the background tone, and it’s also good to see that they’ve been given some space of their own since the reproductions are on the small side.

I’ve been told there’s a catalogue for this event although I’ve yet to discover whether it’s as splendid as the one for the Korea show. The exhibition will run to December then if all goes to plan will relocate to Shanghai for early 2015. More about that later.


Jud Turner (USA).


Jong Deok Park (Korea).


Jin Su Han (Korea).

Update: More photos here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
More vapour trails
Steampunk catalogued
Steampunk: The Art of Victorian Futurism
Steampunk Calendar
Words and pictures
Nathanial Krill at the Time Node
Fiendish Schemes
Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam
Steampunk Revolution
The Bookman Histories
Aether Cola
Crafting steampunk illustrations
SteamPunk Magazine
Morlocks, airships and curious cabinets
The Steampunk Bible
Steampunk Reloaded
Steampunk overloaded!
More Steampunk and the Crawling Chaos
Steampunk Redux
Steampunk framed
Steampunk Horror Shortcuts

6 thoughts on “Steampunk in the Tank”

  1. Thanks, I’m still surprised it’s in China. You expect that some of your more popular work may be shown in European galleries but I never expected Asia (apart from Japan, maybe). Science fiction in China isn’t subject to the restrictions that used to keep it underground so there’s a growing interest:

    Good that they have some new films at that festival, although there’s a few old ones I can think of that I wouldn’t mind seeing on a big screen.

  2. If that sounds like a dig at the Chinese, I’ve had similar suspicions when visiting Tate Modern which was formerly Bankside Power Station.
    I have fond memories of the Zeche Zollverein and Kokerei in Essen — the whole site converted into a venue for art installations.

  3. Thanks, Thom.

    herr doktor bimler: Seems to be the way with many of these abandoned works. I’d rather see this kind of redevelopment which often retains some of the original works than have a place be levelled for more offices.

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