Oh, Theo Jansen, I’d like to be your friend. Jansen’s kinetic sculptures, the Strandbeest animals, walk and “survive” on their own. They’re made of simple materials (electrical conduit and lemonade bottles) and driven by the wind. The movement mechanisms and binary code used to give the animals “intelligence” are certainly beyond the level of complexity to which I aspire, but are fascinating and inspiring nonetheless.

In a TEDTalk from 2007, Jansen describes his goals for the survival of his animals and the mechanisms used to give them life.

Interesting elements: the rule of 11–referenced in the video–refers to the eleven measurements / ratios necessary for the legs to walk, mechanisms: crank shaft drives, offset cams (is that the right word?), wind power for the animals allows them to remain low tech. This low tech aspect of them is particularly appealing. How can a push/pull from the wind (or a person) generate and multiply that movement?

The Strandbeest make several appearances in my video montage of inspirational works of humans and nature. Check it out here.


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