Longitude Punk’d

Opening Easter 2014, Longitude Punk’d at the Royal Observatory will celebrate the creations of wacky inventors, star-gazing scientists and extremely elegant explorers of the 18th century. Royal Museums Greenwich has commissioned eight UK steampunk artists to create works inspired by the technical inventions that were presented to the Board of Longitude between 1714-1828.

The Board of Longitude were tasked to judge and reward ideas to solve the problem of how to accurately measure longitude at sea. The money incentive attracted many would-be inventors, some more plausible than others, to solve ‘longitude at sea’. Scholars and artisans became so obsessed that it came to be seen as an impossible dream that only charlatans, conmen and the completely mad were attracted to!

Longitude Punk’d will showcase both fantastical inventions and real historic objects that blur the boundaries between art and science, fiction and fact, by Robert Rankin, Herr Doktor, Dr Geof, Jema Hewitt, Major Thaddeus Tinker, Karen Grover, Yomi Ayeni and Wyn Griffiths.

Longitude Punk’d competition

The Longitude Punk’d Competition for the Encouragement of the Arts of Longitudinal Steampunking is a chance for everyone to have a go at inventing a solution to the 18th-century longitude problem. Open to craftspeople, artists and creative inventors, winners will exhibit their creations alongside the UK’s top steampunk artists in the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

To enter the Longitude Punk’d Competition for the Encouragement of the Arts of Longitudinal Steampunking, you will need to start working on a fake-historical 3D object inspired by the history and inventions submitted to the Board of Longitude. This object should be realistic to the time of the 18th century, but it must also be fantastical. It must have a certain something that the viewer asks themselves ‘was that really made in the 18th century?’

The four main competition categories will be:

  • Inspired by Longitude: directly inspired by the historical inventions and drawings submitted to the Board of Longitude between 1714 and 1828
  • Aesthetics: entries that best embody the aesthetics of 18th century invention
  • Craftsmanship: entries that demonstrate the highest standards of craft and inventive ability
  • Spirit of Steampunk: entries which best demonstrate the spirit of steampunk as applied to the 18th century.

More details to be announced in October!

Longitude Punk’d is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

See http://www.rmg.co.uk/longitudepunkd for further details of this 2014 exhibition and a science & technology online competition at Royal Museums Greenwich, UK.