The Dance of the Strandbeests

Excerpts from the BBC and Leslie Taylor, Talking Science

Brilliant kinetic sculptor and artist Theo Jansen builds ‘strandbeests’ from yellow plastic tubing that is readily available in his native Holland.

The graceful creatures evolve over time as Theo adapts their designs to harness the wind more efficiently. They are powered only by the wind and even store some of the wind’s energy in plastic bottle ‘stomachs’ to be used when there is no wind.

He lets the strandbeests go on the beaches where they move independently with the wind.

On his Web site, Theo Jansen explains some of the mechanisms his “animals” have “adapted” over time, including a wind storage system:

“Self-propelling beach animals like Animaris Percipiere have a stomach. This consists of recycled plastic bottles containing air that can be pumped up to a high pressure by the wind. This is done using a variety of bicycle pump, needless to say of plastic tubing. Several of these little pumps are driven by wings up at the front of the animal that flap in the breeze. It takes a few hours, but then the bottles are full. They contain a supply of potential wind. Take off the cap and the wind will emerge from the bottle at high speed. The trick is to get that untamed wind under control and use it to move the strandbeest.”

Strandbeest Theo Jansen
Strandbeest Theo Jansen

Talking Science Article

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