Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Theo Jansen is a dutch artist born in 1948 in Scheveningen, Netherlands. He is known for his work on the large kinetic sculptures called Strandbeest which he has worked since 1990. The main material used to create the creatures is a type of PVC tubing which is used in electrical wiring in Holland, and therefore very cheap and widely available. Some other materials such as plastic bottles and fabric are used to supplement, but the Strandbeest are entirely wind-powered and contain no electronic or computerized parts despite the increasing complexity of their design. Jansen considers the creatures to to be living animals and has even given them their own taxonomy. His ultimate goal is to create a herd of Strandbeest that will be able to survive on the beach by themselves after Jansen’s death. Over time, and with help from Jansen, the Strandbeest have evolved to suit their environment, with such adaptations as storing compressed air for later use, a 'feeler' to sense when the creature walks into water and cause it to reverse, and an anchor to keep from blowing away during storms. Recently, Jansen has also come out with smaller versions of the Strandbeest, both through 3D printing and modeling kits, which are for sale on his website. Jansen considers the purchase of both the models and the 3D printed creatures a form of reproduction for the Strandbeest. Jansen’s idea of his Strandbeest as a new form of life is related to Baudrillard’s idea about simulation replacing reality and how hard it is to tell the difference between the two. The true question of Jansen’s work is; are these creatures in fact new forms of life, or just simulations of life? How can we know? And who are we to judge?

 

5 comments:

  1. these pieces are really incredible. i do think it's kind of creepy how he really implies that they're actual animals because i do not think that they are because they aren't actually living but i'd be interested in hearing a counter argument to that

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  2. I think there's no reason that our conception of what counts as living creatures cannot be expanded to include these gentle giants! I also think it's interesting to think of Jansen and his beests as a micro-simulation of God and his creations, and within that world, Jansen's authority to call his creatures alive must be the final word on the subject. Who are we to say, as mere observers of his miniature universe?

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  3. These creatures are breaking my heart, because of the "cute factor" and also by the idea of them dying off in nature. It's so cool that they are solar powered and made out of accessible materials!! With that, it's also cool that he is intentionally limiting the materials he uses. which is a common creative strategy, and connecting this to larger ideas of evolution.

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  5. Love the concept that they are meant to survive him. Puts life back into prospective that we are only here for so long

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