Where art and technology meet – “Strandbeest”
We decided to start writing articles regarding the combination of art and technology since it’s more frequent and exceptional. We hope you’ll find these combinations as much as we do. The series will start with a story about a Dutch artist Theo Jansen who has been working for almost 2 decades in order to create sculptures that move on their own. Each generation of his Strandbeests (beach beast) is subject to the forces of evolution, with successful forms moving forward into new designs. He calls his kinetic sculptures “Animari” and he started creating them in 1990.
The creatures walk in herds on beaches, powered only by the wind. Some of them are able to capture and store the wind, then keep moving for extended times. Some even have the ability to anchor themselves in the sand when the wind threatens to blow them away – allowing the plastic-tube creatures to engage in active self-preservation.
If you think the idea of wind-powered beach crawling creatures sounds odd, you’ll be shocked with the artist’s vision of their future. He theorizes that one day the Animari will be able to evolve just like the organic beings on earth: by challenging each other. The winner will absorb the loser’s “DNA” and continue to grow and learn new things. Theo Jansen says that the creatures will one day have muscles, as well as brains complicated enough to allow them to perform complex actions.
The Animaris Rhinoceros Transport is 4.70 meters tall, but can be set into motion by one person. Because of its height it catches enough wind to start moving. Unlike other animals he created, this one is made of a steel skeleton and polyester and weighs about 2 tons. It is equipped with passenger seats and can be used for transport. However, due to the fact that it can be moved only during strong winds from the right direction, the artist said that the living quarters should be built inside the animal in order to make the travel more comfortable.
The Strandbeest show a great combination of art and inventive engineering. His creations have been inspiring similar works that work on solar power or use the same ratio for joints in order to create robots that move in a similar manner and will surely inspire new creations in the future.