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Theo Jansen

For more than twenty years Theo Jansen has wholeheartedly devoted himself to create a new form of life. His “Strandbeest” (beach beasts) seem so organic that from a distance they could be mistaken for huge insects or prehistoric mammoth skeletons, but they are made of materials from the industrial age: flexible plastic tubes, adhesive tape.

They were born inside a computer as an algorithm, but they do not require engines, sensors or any other type of advanced technology in order to walk.They move thanks to the force of the wind and wet sand they find in their habitat of the Dutch coast.

Theo Jansen’s creatures

From his laboratory in Ypenburg, Jansen studies the history of biological evolution to provide his new generation of creatures with greater and greater capacities. His dream is that one day they will learn how to evolve without his intervention and continue their lives as any other organism, subject to cycles of nature.

All those who observe for the fist time the beauty of one of Theo Jansen’s creatures moving around the sand understand immediately that the work of this engineer, scientist and artist is something special.

However, during more than a decade he has remained in the dark and has only recently been discovered by the international art community. In the last decade, dazzled by the digital revolution, his works could seem rudimentary, above all compared to the sofisticated productions his contemporary colleagues have been carrying out in the field of robotic art.

"By developing this evolution, I hope to become wiser in the understanding of existing nature by encountering myself the problems of the real Creator."

A sculpture. One that looks like a mutated massive animal, but not quite. It has volume of a body, multiple legs, sometimes a tail end...but above all, it walks! There is no electric power, stored or direct, that makes kinetic avatar of the form come alive. Strandbeests (Dutch term that translates to ‘beach beasts’) are creations of Theo Jansen. He first began working on the mechanics of this almost six decades back. The kinetic structures are propelled with wind and Jansen calls them ‘artificial life’. The complex design is intricately assembled. For the physicist-turned-artist, it is not the creation of an ultimate dream machine, but rather has been an evolution, just like any living form on earth. Furthermore, the recent ‘editions of the species’ are enabled with intelligence and storage of energy – they can respond to the environment and alter their course when they touch water, and store wind to move when there is no natural breeze...almost like any living being, across flora and fauna, that can survive without consuming food through stored energy. Source

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