The Art Of Perpetual Motion Beach Creatures

Contributed by Carmen Summerfield

These art pieces, made by Theo Jansen, are kinetic creations made from electrical insulation tubing and bamboo sticks, cable ties and Dacron sails. They are designed to move across the ground by the force of the wind, almost like a perpetual motion machine.

Every summer, Theo Jansen transforms Scheveningen beach in the Netherlands into a laboratory where these monumental art pieces are deployed and walk across the beach on their own, almost as if they have perpetual motion.

Theo Jansen considers these art pieces almost a living species, developed according to the principles of evolution and genetic transformation, thereby questioning the widely accepted division between the natural and the artificial, the organic and the mechanical, and creating a complex genealogy.

According to Theo Jansen, “Despite Galileo, despite Darwin, humans still insist on seeing themselves and the Centre of Creation. Look at it from the paper’s point of view for once. To that sheet of paper, a human is no more than a pile of protein molecules”.

He considers the Strandbeests as having their own rationale, their own mechanisms and evolutionary principles of which he is not so much the inventor as the conveyor and transmitter.

To my surprise these Strandbeests are coming to America, with their first exhibit opening in Chicago this month. There are also videos on Youtube, linked on our Valley Arts Alliance page on Facebook, showing the Strandbeests walking on the beach. You can be sure my next visit to Holland will include a walk on the beach, looking for Strandbeests!