August 13, 2002 12:46 AM   Subscribe

Strandbeesten (=Beach Animals) is a site by Dutch artist Theo Jansen. Over the last decade, he constructed a number of strange constructions from plastic tubes that walk around on the beach, driven by the winds. A bit like Sodaconstructor but now for real. The video quality is a bit poor, but still it's worthwhile.
posted by swordfishtrombones (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
those are pretty. it looks as if they can only go in a straight line though, so this:

Eventualy he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.

smacks of a little bit of hyperbole.
posted by juv3nal at 12:56 AM on August 13, 2002

The videos are just like sodaplay. Neat.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:08 AM on August 13, 2002

Jansen's creations are beautiful.

A short explanation of Jansen's methodology.

Personally, I am fascinated by art that sets up a rule-base and then explores the variations within those constraints - a strange mix of aesthetics and function, like architecture for an abstract civilization.
posted by vacapinta at 1:30 AM on August 13, 2002 [1 favorite]

That was a great link swordfish.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:50 AM on August 13, 2002

And a close second in coolness is that painting machine--a xerox copier for buildings. Very neat link swordfish. Thank you.
posted by Tacodog at 3:01 AM on August 13, 2002

"Some of the animals live their lives just in the computer. Maybe someday they wil come out. "

So what is going on? My dial-up connection allows me to view these videos only in half-second bursts, and they are so small that it is hard to judge possible trickery.

Are the videos all computer generated imagery? The movement certainly seems too complex to be generated just by wind power in those tangles of plastic pipe. And vacapinta's link indicates that this guy is known for his AI animals.

Whatever. They are amazing science fiction images, beautifully done.
posted by gametone at 4:43 AM on August 13, 2002

No trickery here. Some are just in their design stage, however. Jansen uses some kind of 'evolution' to make new designs. Some work, others don't. One of his creations is hanging from the ceiling in our faculty: it's 5 meters long and seems rather heavy, but I've seen footage of it actually 'walking'.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 5:25 AM on August 13, 2002

Belongs at Burning Man
posted by stbalbach at 5:57 AM on August 13, 2002

In 1975 Theo Jansen quits his study Physics at the University of Delft and becomes a painter.

Thanks, swordfish, for providing a new role model.
posted by Eamon at 6:00 AM on August 13, 2002

Wow. Brilliant!

Thanks for that, S.

Wonder what the seagulls think of them...

On the one hand, they look perfectly like part of their environment, moving in a relationship with the wind. On the other hand, they look mechanized and strange and out of place, alien to nature -- just like humanity.
posted by argybarple at 6:38 AM on August 13, 2002

Very cool link. However, I suspect that until the beach animals are able to right themeselves after having been blown over, these will become beach junk in fairly short order. Maybe the wind at dutch beaches is gentler than it is here?
posted by daver at 9:16 AM on August 13, 2002

This was one of the first things I saw on the net, lo those many years ago. And it's just as cool now as it was in '96.

Those beasts look so elegant and alien, and yet sturdy enough to stand up to strong winds. I wonder how they'd do marching up and down Santa Monica and Venice?
posted by RakDaddy at 9:22 AM on August 13, 2002

wow! thanks for that. I've looked around for information on the actual mechanics of them but couldn't find any. any info? (also a pity there was no close up of all those little feet in action)
posted by gravelshoes at 10:33 AM on August 13, 2002

also, although quite different, it reminds me of Panamarenko (can't find much on him either- one of those days...), who makes fantastic flying machines and land and sea vehicles, although most of them don't actually work. Here is an airship he built because he wanted to land it in Brigitte Bardot's garden and whisk her away in. what a man!
posted by gravelshoes at 10:43 AM on August 13, 2002

gravelshoes: That's odd. I was at the Dia center site yesterday. I was looking for more info on Susan Hiller (I was hoping that the Witness recordings were online) and stumbled on some old web project of hers. The Dia site has some interesting web projects including this small soundscape from Stephen Vitiello.
posted by vacapinta at 11:45 AM on August 13, 2002

" but I've seen footage of it actually 'walking'."
posted by swordfishtrombones

Any more eye-witnesses to these fabulous creatures? Or are there any folks who can explain what the mechanisms behind their locomotion are?

I can speculate that they scuttle across the sand, pushed by the wind, their feet scraping, vibrating along, balanced delicately between rolling like a tumbleweed and keeping those flexy feet on the ground.

I can also imagine a mechanism that could alternately raise and lower sets of legs, through energy derived from some sort of turbine to cam hookup. That plus the sail effect of a breeze through it's skeleton might make it progress with a gate of sorts, in whatever direction the breeze blows.

Am I on the right track? Or are these things powered by reverse engineered zero-point cold-fusion anti-gravity nanobots.
posted by gametone at 10:27 PM on August 13, 2002

Most of those pictures look like something from a Pink Floyd album cover.

I won't even try the video on my connection, but I am quite intrigued - I imagine the wind pushing them along, with the feet moving forward as the forward force of the whole overcomes the friction of each individual foot. The biggest trick may be to generate enough forward momentum to move the beast without tipping it over.

Or maybe gametone has it right in his final comment?

Nice site, too.
posted by dg at 10:50 PM on August 13, 2002

Oh, how I wish the video were better quality. I would love to see one of these in much more detail.

Beautiful stuff. Thanks so much for the link.
posted by frykitty at 11:40 PM on August 13, 2002

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