Living Sculptures Move Without Electricity - Theo Jansen's Strandbeests

Published May 6, 2021 21 Views

For the past 20 years, Dutch artist Theo Jansen has been perfecting a new form of life—the “Strandbeest.” Like a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci, Jansen has applied both artistic and engineering skills to create the giant mechanical creatures that can walk on their own, powered only by the wind. “Strandbeests”—or “beach animals”—consist of skeletons fashioned from lightweight PVC tubes. Wind propels their wing-like sails, which then drives their feet to walk sideways. Created on the Dutch seaside, the strandbeests know to avoid water, walking in the opposite direction as soon as it comes in contact with their feelers.
Over the past two decades, the strandbeests have evolved, with Jansen creating a variety new species—some that are even able to store wind power. Ultimately, the artist hopes to let herds of strandbeests “live their own lives,” leaving them to survive on their own.
In September, the Peabody Essex Museum will host the Krst major American exhibition of Jansen’s strandbeests, complete with the kinetic sculptures themselves, artist sketches, demonstrations of the creatures’ ambulatory systems, a hall of their “fossils,” and photography by Lena Herzog, who has been following their evolution.
But before the exhibit opens, PEM is offering locals a chance to see the creatures in action. Beginning in late August, the museum will host a series of pop-ups during which two strandbeests, called Animaris Ordis, will demonstrate their walking abilities.
Music: Doggy (Spacey Pooch Mix) by Dhruva Aliman
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