Wings, Sails and Rudders

Posted: April 21, 2013 by Mary Lin in Uncategorized

If on viewing photos of the set you’re left wondering if we’re intentionally referencing the flying machine schematics or by DaVinci, or bat wing anatomy, you’d be correct on both counts. Da Vinci rightly pointed out that all engineering problems are solved via the examination of nature, and as such, he borrowed liberally from our fellow creatures with his inventions. Just so, the “sail-wings” of the Annelid are actually functional and are mechanically flapped by the performers in the show.

Wheels Rails and Rudders

“Wheels, rails and rudders, propellers, tails / Drive gears and crank shafts and billowy sails”


They also bring to mind the sails of Chinese junques, and the cross-cultural steampunkery of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. If the entire world is unified under one queen, wouldn’t technology and design from all parts of the Empire make their appearance?

This type of mechanical functionality is true to the original spirit of steampunk but is at times lost the Steampunk “let’s put gratuitious gears on stuff” aesthetic. In our design of the show we tried to make stuff as plausibly functional as possible. Hence, the Personal Energy Encapsulation Device, the methane collector, is situated appropriately on the anatomy; ear horns are plausible in design, and optical equipment, including the goggles are made with actual optical lenses, most of them from American Optical, the mill where two generations of my family worked in the small riverside mill town of Southbridge, Massachusetts, where I was born.

In the next post I’ll talk a bit more about the choices in our portrayal of the mer-women and our obsessions with our mysterious past.

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