Queen's Brian May has officially gone steampunk

Brian May in steampunk garb
(Image credit: Denis Pellerin)

Queen guitarist Brian May has announced a new version of his OWL Viewer, the device he launched to 2015 to celebrate the publication of Queen In 3D, a book featuring featuring 40 years of stereoscopic photos taken by May himself.

In 2016 he announced the arrival of the OWL VR Smartphone Kit, which allowed smartphone owners to view online 3D images as well those taken themselves.

Now he's gone a step further, producing a rugged version of the OWL viewer that's  designed to be carried around in a pocket without fear of breakage. And it looks a little different. 

"The style of the viewer was inspired by the current Steampunk genre - a fanciful combination of Victorian style and pre-combustion engine technology," says May. "Steampunk has been described as how the World would have looked if the Victorians had managed to get into Space, as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells dreamed.  

"Stereoscopy – now known as 3-D – was invented in 1832 by Englishman Charles Wheatstone, and this new instrument, firmly based on the genius of his designs, seemed a perfect opportunity to incorporate steampunk motifs into its appearance.  

"The design also owes a lot to my old friend Chris Dodman at S.B. Westons in Sunbury-upon-Thames, who collaborated on the design of the very first ‘Classic’ folding focussing OWL in 2009. 

"It’s manufactured by my friends in China, Jade Productions, who have also printed our most recent LSC books. The first limited edition Steampunk OWLs arrived today - an introductory limited edition in a special themed cardboard packet. They will be flying out very soon!" 

May first discovered stereoscopic photography – a technique whereby two slightly offset two-dimensional images are combined to give the perception of three-dimensional depth – as a child, and in 2008 revived the London Stereoscopic Company, a business originally set up in 1854 to sell stereo pictures and stereo viewers to the public.

The guitarist has previously published a book featuring stereoscopic pictures of crinoline petticoats, another one of moon photos, and created an animated film based on the 19th century three-dimensional 'Diableries' cards called One Night In Hell. The cards feature stereoscopic photographs of hellish landscapes and strange creatures. 

The OWL Viewer steampunk variant can be ordered now

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.