March of the Wind Powered ‘Strandbeests’ on the Blustery Shores of the North Sea
by Carolyn Sotka
One of the Strandbeests. Photo by Lena Herzog from The New Yorker’s article on artist Theo Jansen.
Since 1990, artist Theo Jansen has been creating ‘Strandbeests’, which translates to beach animals in Dutch. The strandbeests are a
Video from the Strandbeest Webshop.
According to Jansen’s Web site, he makes these skeletons to walk on the wind, so they don’t have to eat. His vision is to have herds of Strandbeests, that are self sustained to roam and live their own lives.
According to Jansen, “Reality is very creative. Maybe that is why the Strandbeests appear to be alive, and charm us. The Strandbeests themselves have let me make them.” Photo by Marco Zwinkles.
In The New Yorker article “The March of the Strandbeests” Jansen describes what the Strandbeests mean to him, and how others relate to the creatures. “The walking Strandbeest is a body snatcher,” it charms people and then uses them so they can’t do anything else but follow, and I am the worst victim, you could say. All the time I think about them. Always I have a new plan, but then it is corrected by the requirements of the tubes. They dictate to me what to do. At the end of my working day, I am almost always depressed. Mine is not a straight path like an engineer’s, it’s not A to B. I make a very curly road just by the restrictions of goals and materials. A real engineer would probably solve the problem differently, maybe make an aluminum robot with motor and electric sensors and all that. But the solutions of engineers are often much alike, because human brains are much alike. Everything we think can in principle be thought by someone else. The real ideas, as evolution shows, come about by chance.”