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Richard Clarkson Makes Cellphones Steampunk

Art Attack is dedicated to bringing you all the latest crafts in the world of steampunk, whether you are looking for something as small as a computer mouse or as large as an entire home, we hope that we can be your guide on who to turn to live out your sci-fi Victorian fantasies. The latest genius of the trend is Richard Clarkson, who has finally brought steampunk to mobile technology.

What you're seeing is a Samsung Envy, the same phone we currently have, retrofitted to incorporate a brass rotary dial. Clarkson is still working the bugs out in the electronics as rotary sends a single pulse while modern button systems use multiple pulses in a matrix to communicate, and the merging the systems is a bit tricky.

Nonetheless, Clarkson is well up to the task. He is currently an industrial design student at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and is set to begin pursuing a Masters of Industrial Design specializing in integrating mechanical and analog systems. In other words, he's on his way to being a professional steampunk designer and also making American education look really, really boring.

Currently, Clarkson's phone is not available for sale, though he plans to continue working on prototypes that may become commercially available in the future. In keeping with the true steampunk goal, he is considering adding an attachable keyboard system in order for users to more fully use the range of functions in modern cellular phones.

"In that way I suppose the existing phone is more of an exhibition piece, the main goal of which was to make people take notice of their everyday objects and start to ask questions," Clarkson says.

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Any fan of steampunk will tell you that the ultimate goal is attention-getting. You don't throw brass gears and aged glass into a design to be subtle. Though he hasn't yet received any offers, Clarkson's hope is that a company like Nokia might be interested in exploring manufacturing possibilities, at least in a limited run.

The final product would, of course, have to be more functionally modern than his current prototype. Considering the number of people who turn in their phones for a new one each year in order to take advantage of the continuous march of new features and technologies, it may not be feasible to manufacture something so obviously meant to last and be treasured by an owner who values style over function.

Still, for those of you who embrace this ever more popular genre of pure panache, take heart in the fact that there are plenty of people like Clarkson who are applying true scientific prowess to the study of how to make everyday objects a little bit cooler. We'll keep you posted on who blows our minds next.

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