(Video link here.) We’ve posted before about artist Theo Jansen’s remarkable Strandbeests, creatures made entirely from PVC pipe that move on their own using wind-power. Watching them scurry across the beach like enormous prehistoric insects never ceases to delight us.
Jansen, who has been working on his beasts for over 20 years, has often referred to their genetic code and ability to reproduce. His ultimate goal is enabling them to live on their own on the beaches of Holland. As he shows in this charmingly awkward Ted talk, his creatures are indeed evolving. The Strandbeests, made entirely of ordinary materials, now have what Jansen calls “a simple brain.”
Susceptible to drowning, a “new generation”of Standbeests store wind power in lemonade bottles attached to their tube limbs so that they can scuttle away from the water if the tide is coming in. He’s also created feelers for the beasts that allow them “sense” when they are about to walk into water; they automatically go in the opposite direction, toward the dunes and safety.
The evolution of the beasts are remarkable not only for Jansen’s vision and bold use of everyday materials and tools. They remind us of ways in which the artistic process (or any process) mimics a lifecycle. You give birth to your creation and it slowly takes on a life of its own, becomes bigger than you as its creator, and makes its way in the world on its own legs.