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.
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.