If he was creating during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, Theo Jansen would have posed a very big philosophical and practical problem for them. Though he is not a self-proclaimed one, Mr. Jansen was called God. Because he creates new forms of life.

He is ignoring the boundaries of two fields that are his passion, and, we quote: “The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.”. For the past 16 years, Mr. Jansen has been creating sculptures that, fed by gusts of wind, imitate life, and walk. The mechanics are simple, in ways of power they use, but get pretty complicated in terms of the actual movement. Please note, these “creatures” are large. To try to put it simple, would be something like this: Creatures have a “stomach”, consisting of lots of recycled plastic bottles. These are connected by plastic tubing, with bicycle pump look-alike mechanisms that are operated, by the creatures “wings”, normally at the front, and can build up pressure. When the potential wind energy in the stomach is high enough, it is released and powers the beasts “muscles” – more plastic tubes (one within another, with a rubber ring between) that act like pistons. These muscles are what powers the beasts’ motion – a muscle opens a tap that activates another muscle, which opens another tap, and on it goes. Being nested around spindly “legs”, and controlling them in an efficient way, these centers can easily be compared to “brains”. Despite the complicated mechanisms, and the surely inadequate description, Beach Beasts move firmly and with balance.

Mostly insect-like creations, huge in proportion, graze the Dutch beaches, where nutrition is easy to find. With each generation, the creatures evolve, by the grace of their creator, who hopes and is working on imbuing them with the ability to avoid obstacles such as rocks or deeper water. His dream is to eventually produce herds of Beach Beasts, and have them roam the coastline freely, as living things deserve.


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