Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests: Kinetic Sculptures Living Their Own Conscious Lives

There’s something magical about seeing an inanimate object come to life, and Theo Jansen takes it to another level. His Strandbeests are wind-powered sculptures that walk the beaches of Holland every summer, and onlookers are always in awe of their beauty. What’s even more impressive is Jansen’s vision for the future of his creations - he dreams of giving them an evolutionary end where they live their own conscious lives. It’s a fascinating idea, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

“Let a few million years pass, and my Strandbeests will be completely self-sufficient,” he says more modestly. “But I will dispute that vision; nevertheless, his more realistic goals inspire me. These PVC tube creatures have evolved into menacing monsters that can walk unaided on the beach after around 12 generations of evolution.” His most recent invention is the Volantum, which flies like a free animal. A giant beetle-shaped kite, to be more precise.

Flapping wings have aided these mythical creatures in achieving flight and riding the wind. Animaris Vulgaris, Animaris Rhinoceros, and Mater Extensa are some of the Latin names given to various creations.

The burning intention for these flying creations or any previous projects is to remedy the difficulty of climate change and its resulting rising sea level. With these one-of-a-kind kinetic constructions churning up the beach and flinging sand onto the dunes to strengthen them, he wants to resolve the problem. The multi-legged dragonflies are driven by the wind, which propels the spine (more like a car’s crankshaft) and the several legs connected to it.