Theo Jansen's Mighty Wind-Powered Creatures (Videos)

That's just wind powering that animaris rhinoceros up there.

I hadn't heard of Theo Jansen or his amazing wind-powered creatures/sculptures before reading a profile on the artist in last week's New Yorker, though Lloyd has covered his work here before. Put simply, the guy blew me away. He builds intricate sculptures that resemble imaginary beasts, somehow both mythological and futuristic. He creates them largely out of lightweight plastic tubes and other pedestrian building materials. Then, he places them in wind-swept locales -- largely beaches in his native Holland -- and they come to life.

Called Strandbeests, the autonomous creatures lurch, amble, stride, and, well, just watch:

Here's another decent look at his work, via an opportunistic BMW commercial:

Interestingly, Jansen's animal sculptures arose out of a desire to automate creatures that would fortify Holland's coastline with extra sand, in order to protect the nation from rising sea levels spurred by climate change.

From the New Yorker article abstract (subscribers can read the whole thing):

In 1990, [Theo] proposed in a column for De Volkskrant, a national newspaper, that animals could be built that would toss sand in the air so that it would land on and augment the seaside dunes which protected the country from flooding. He promised to devote a year to this project, and it has occupied him exclusively ever since.

Jansen is a fascinating character, to say the least. His work, beyond capturing the imagination of millions, goes some ways towards showing us what potential natural forces still hold, and how human ingenuity might continue to tap them in unprecedented ways.

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