eGFI - Dream Up the Future Sign-up for The Newsletter  For Teachers Online Store Contact us Search
Read the Magazine
What's New?
Explore eGFI
Engineer your Path About eGFI
Autodesk - Change Your World
Overview E-tube Trailblazers Student Blog
  • Tag Cloud

  • What’s New

  • Pages

  • RSS RSS

  • RSS Comments

  • Archives

  • Meta

Engineering as Art: Theo Jansen

Animaris-Percipiere

Photo by Loek van der Kils, http://www.Loekvanderklis.com

“The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.”
– Theo Jansen

Next time you go to the beach, look out for Strandbeesten – enormous free-roaming mechanical “beasts” – engineered by Dutch painter and sculptor Theo Jansen. Jansen studied physics at the University of Delft, Holland before he decided to become an artist, and his scientific background is evident in much of his work. The Strandbeest project originated from a computer program he wrote over 18 years ago where multi-legged animals raced each other in a survival-of-the-fittest competition. So how exactly do his whimsical creatures work?

The Strandbeesten – literally “beach beasts” – are kinetic, wind-powered sculptures made of string, tape and electrical tubing. Their skeletal forms come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and these species “evolve according to a genetic code,” Jansen explains. Each creature has its own unique “DNA”, as determined by the number and length of the tubes. Some of the beasts have built-in mechanical sensors that tell them when they have reached the water’s edge or when a storm is coming, at which point they either change direction or anchor themselves securely to the ground. The newer generations can even store excess power in empty lemonade bottles and use this energy when the wind dies down.

Jansen has been working on these strange beachcombers for close to two decades. He hopes to someday release herds of them into the wild to survive on their own (and even reproduce!). His work is another example of the amazing things that can come about when engineers let their beasts imaginations run free. Watch another video.

Rhinoceros

10 Responses to “Engineering as Art: Theo Jansen”

  1. […] Space Station to the 3D motion-capture animation of Avatar to Theo Jansen’s jaw-dropping Strandbeesten. Young innovators, like those profiled in our trailblazers section, are showing that the best type […]

  2. […] Learn More about Theo Jansen’s engineered art. […]

  3. […] along that, in addition to bridging the gap between art and science, also manages to leave you completely awestruck. Such is the case with the haunting and surreal underwater sculpture of Jason deCaires Taylor, a […]

  4. […] new spin on Theo Jansen’s Strandbeesten should leave even the artist himself smiling. Starting with a make-your-own-Strandbeest kit from […]

  5. […] new spin on Theo Jansen’s Strandbeesten should leave even the artist himself smiling. Starting with a make-your-own-Strandbeest kit from […]

  6. […] what media and methods are employed, it’s clear that Jeremijenko’s unique marriage of art and engineering is one that will continue to surprise, delight, provoke, and educate a multitude of […]

  7. […] him to design such a chair? Non other than Theo Jansen’s Strandbeesten, a series of skeletal, beach-roaming kinetic sculptures created by the Dutch artist and […]

  8. […] him to design such a chair? Non other than Theo Jansen’s Strandbeesten, a series of skeletal, beach-roaming kinetic sculptures created by the Dutch artist and […]

  9. […] Read Engineering as Art, our eGFI students’ blog posting about Theo Jansen and his designs. […]

  10. […] Read Engineering as Art, our eGFI students’ blog posting about Theo Jansen and his designs. […]

Comments or Questions?

By clicking the "Submit" button you agree to the eGFI Privacy Policy.