Wind Creatures

OK, actually Strandbeest, or “beach creature,” but they are wind-powered and amazing, occasionally creepy, cute, and make me boggle at the mechanics and engineering every time I see them. They are the brain children (brain pets?) of the Dutch sculptor Theo Jansen.

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Jansen started the project as a way to draw attention to the problems he feels that Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) will cause the beaches and sand dunes of the Netherlands. He uses PVC pipe and waste plastics (straws, plastic sheet, bottles) to build creatures that are actuated by the wind. A system of water injection to the “feet” helps the beests stay on top of the sand. Technically, they are called kinetic sculptures, meaning that they are supposed to move. Most kinetic sculptures are closer to Calder mobiles. These are more like the flattened fossile creatures from the Burgess shale, brought back to life.

Jansen built his first large Strandbeest in 1990. It had a few technical flaws. Over time the beests have “evolved” as Jansen puts it, no longer breaking their own backs as they walk across the beaches. He sells plans and encourages people to make their own small versions. The engineering is amazing to watch. I know it is gearing and levers, but there’s something very cool and a little eerie about watching these creatures walk with the wind.

I’m amazed by the things.

And here’s Adam Savage, who built a model Strandbeest, having fun with Theo Jansen and a real beest.


6 thoughts on “Wind Creatures

  1. Definitely interesting application of wind power. And a little bit eerie watching them walk on their own. The interview is quite revealing too!

  2. Fascinating. I’ve never seen or heard of these before, but I’m not surprised it is from the Netherlands. When I visited the beaches along the North Sea I saw the densest assemblage of wind-related recreation I’ve ever witnessed, like a super deluxe version of what I’d seen at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Netherlands also have a number of wind-related art installations along the beach-facing streets of beach towns.

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