Do you understand Internet memes? Or Steampunk? Or Dead Drops? Neither did we, until we started watching Off Book, a fascinating new PBS Web series that explores experimental and nontraditional art forms.

Launched this summer, Off Book tackles a different theme every two weeks–say, online craft culture or aerial dance–in punchy five- to eight-minute videos that are posted online, where they live indefinitely.


The episodes are certainly far-reaching, with subjects ranging from ultra-niche (light painting photography) to ultra-ubiquitous (typography).

Our favorite installments, however, are those that invite us into a whole creative universe we never knew existed. In “Steampunk,” for instance, we learn about artists, musicians and actors whose work is informed by a pseudo Victorian world in which steam power reigns supreme. And in “F.A.T. Lab,” we’re introduced to a rogue online community dedicated to merging pop culture with open-source technology. (Practitioners recently created a Web tool that can bleep out any mention of Justin Bieber on your computer screen.)

The forthcoming episode, “Street Art,” goes online this Wednesday, so be sure to check in then to see the creative currency of a can of spray paint.

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