The artist I chose to write about is Theo Jansen. A friend of mine in the Fine Arts program showed me a video of his moving sculptures, and I was blow away by their beauty, and how creative he is as an artist and inventor.

Theo Jansen is a Dutch artist, who creates kinetic sculptures that move on their own as if it were a living and breathing being. They are called “Strandbeests”/“Animali”, meaning ‘beach animal’, each generation of them subject to the forces of evolution, which is apparent in the new and improved designs. The walking sculptures are made primarily of plastic tubes and wood, and are powered by wind, walking along the beaches of Holland. The gossamer wings flap, pumping air into old lemonade bottles that turn the multiple legs attached to a wheel. They are even able to reverse direction if it senses dangerous water, loose sand where the sculptures may get stuck, or will stop if feeling threatened by high winds.

He first began making the Strandbeests in 1990, evolving from his imagination and technical knowledge. Once studying physics, he became a painter later on in life. Theo caused near-panic to his town by creating a UFO model, inventing the ‘painting machine’, which was a spraygun that was sensitive to light and would reproduce what it saw in a room onto a wall, and later came to making his walking sculptures.

In steps for the future, Theo visions the Animali will be able to evolve just like the organic beings inhabiting Earth. He says that one day the creatures will have muscles, and brains that will be complicated enough to perform complex actions.

Upon concluding my research, another thing I found that drew me to Theo’s work is based off of the final paragraph. For an inventor to have plans for the beach walking animals to evolve more to where they have their own muscles and a brain, that is truly amazing to imagine in my mind.

Check out this video link on how the Strandbeests move here!

This video focuses primarily on the beauty behind his Imagination and Engineering skills.

For more information and pictures of Theo Jansen’s work click here.

“A self-styled God, Jansen is evolving an entirely new line of animals: immense multi-legged walking critters designed to roam the Dutch coastline, feeding on gusts of wind.” – Wired News

Klarissa Parduba


4 responses »

  1. Rosaleen Magnone says:

    This guy is incredible!!! Not just for his walking sculptures but also for his other inventions. I mean a spray gun that is light sensitive, awesome! It is a little frightening to think that his sculptures could evolve into something with muscles and brains but its also so exciting to be able to watch it all unfold. He is truly a brilliant mind.

  2. Jessica Langstine says:

    That is absolutely amazing! I have never heard of this guy, or anything at all like what he does. I would love to see something like that in person. It must be so exciting to watch. The BBC video you provided the link to was pretty cool to watch. I was trying to invision what you were saying, but actually seing it really put it all in perspective. I definitely want to look more into it and figure out just how he does it. I don’t imagine he is using any type of little motor to get them to move. I am definitely puzzled.

  3. I’ve seen these sculptures before, but they are still incredible every time! I agree, seeing them move is slightly spooky/surreal!

  4. I just learned about this artist and I am completely in love with his contraptions. I love how he builds them and then lets them go out into the wild. He’s brilliant. The way that he powers his machines is just the picture perfect example of “green” energy.

    ~Mackenzie Vartanian

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