Theo Jansen and his Strandbeests

Theo Jansen, a Dutch physicist turned artist, creates self-propelled kinetic sculptures he calls Strandbeests (Dutch for “beach animals”) out of yellow plastic tubing and other materials that can be bought at a hardware store.

They are powered by the wind.  His more advanced creations store up compressed air for when the wind dies down.  They automatically turn away from water.  And they automatically anchor themselves in the sand when the wind gets too fierce.

He said he thinks of them as a new form of life.  He envisions herds of his creations, roaming the Dutch seashore years after he is gone.  I think it is fair to call them at least a new form of artificial intelligence.

The video above shows Strandbeests in action.  The two below show something of how they work.


STRANDBEEST – Theo Jansen’s web site.

Meet the Beestsanimaris exelsusanimaris ordisanimaris adularianimaris apodiculaanimaris suspendisseanimaris unmerus segundus.

The March of the Strandbeests: Theo Jansen’s kinetic sculptures by Ian Frazier for the New Yorker.

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests Get Their First North American Tour by John Metcalf for CityLab.

Tags: , , ,

One Response to “Theo Jansen and his Strandbeests”

  1. Vincent Says:

    Thank you Phil for this discovery. What a wonderful thinker / artist / mentor. Reminds me of Piet Mondrian. I love what he says as well as what he does (transcript of the beginning of your second video):

    “I’m surprised that I’m here, well I think everybody is surprised that they exist. Evolution is a miracle, it makes me so happy that I want to make a miracle myself as well. Of course, in this nowadays society, they want you to be something, that’s why they call me an artist, but in fact I don’t know what I really am. I want to forget everything I know about art, or science. I don’t think I want to be else than a human being. I’m so happy that I don’t have any responsibility to anybody at all. So I can just play.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: