Strandbeests: New Life Forms Evolve at Exploratorium

If you have not seen Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests in action, drop everything you are doing and watch this right now.

Theo Jansen’s complex PVC and ziptied lifeforms are unlike anything you have ever seen, but the recognizable resemblance to life is eerie and beautiful. You see life when you look at them. You feel their story unfolding before you. At the opening of “Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen” at the Exploratorium, Jansen talked a lot about the possibility for life in the Beests, and how they have continually evolved from his original idea to complex creatures that are reproducing beyond his control by students 3D printing them across the world. At 25 years in the making, they are just in the beginning stages of their evolutionary process, Jansen says. His vision for them is that they can exist independently from him as migratory herds that live on the beach.

The most incredible thing about these Beests is their independence and ability to survive in their environment already, even in these “beginning stages.” Equipped with water bottle stomachs that store wind energy, self lubricating joints, wind piston “hearts” that really beat, and a defense mechanism that allows them to run away from the ocean water, the Beests are much more complex organisms than first meets the eye.

The exhibit runs through September 5th. Definitely go for a live demonstration.

Written by Olivia Ward

Feature Image by Loek Van der Klis