Sunday, March 9, 2008

Moving, Living Art

Wonderful things are created when engineering and art collide.

Theo Jansen, a Dutch engineer and kinetic sculptor, has created works of art that are able to walk on legs using only the wind.
He calls them strandbeests, or "beach creatures", because he lets them walk freely on the beaches of Netherlands. The "creatures" are made of light electrical tubing, and resemble giant bug-like skeletons. The legs of these things are driven by flaps and wings that harness the wind. Jansen has even given them a form of basic intelligence; the creatures have 2-liter bottles that store wind energy for use during less windy days, and some models are able to avoid going into the water through the use of pressurized tubes and a simple binary step counter. These moving art-forms do not have computers in them, nor are they powered by electricity in any way.

See them for yourself:

Here is a video of Theo Jansen giving a live demonstration of his inventions:

His art looks so alive that he likes to call them "animals." He regularly upgrades these creatures through a "genetic algorithm" that simulates evolution.

I must admit, the things look creepy... But he's certainly a genius at his craft.