Photo credit: Windell H. Oskay,
on creative engineering and new media art

Strandbeest (1990-)

January 29th, 2009

Autonomous kinetic sculptures by Theo Jensen.

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Theo Jensen is one of those characters that you just have to love. On his CV he lists how he started studying physics in 1968, and then “stops studying physics and becomes a painter” in 1975, whereupon, in 1980, he “flies UFO across Delft”.

In 1990, he started the project now known as Strandbeest. He builds enormous, wind-powered, walking creatures out of PVC tubes, plastic bags and bottles, and other mundane products. What is so striking about these creatures, other than looking good, is the way they move. Far from some clunky robot style, they seem to move as naturally as a caterpillar or other legged insect or animal. He uses genetic algorithms to develop new legs and bodies in a virtual simulation, and then builds them for real. Or perhaps these days they just evolve by themselves.

The pictures are my own, taken at Ars Electronica in 2005. There’s a whole set on Flickr.

There are lots of pictures and movies if you search for it or go to