Theo Jansen, a Dutch contemporary artist, an engineer, a sculptor, and a remarkable visionary, has created wooden sculptures called Standbeests decades ago. Powered by wind and influenced by evolution, these wooden skeletons are striking machines that you may have never seen anywhere else. If you look at them, they appear like detailed wooden sculptures. But the Strandbeest skeletons come to life as the wind blows across a beach. Hence, Jansen correctly describes them as “skeletons that walk on the wind, so they don’t have to eat”.
He first started to build them in the early 1990s as a response to the rising sea levels. In his mind, he predicted that some wind-powered wood creatures may help in bringing sand from the water’s inland edge to help in repairing and building a never-ending sand barrier. And, this barrier could further help the Low Countries from rising sea levels in the future. The coastal areas he considered for this project are some parts of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
Now Strandbeest Skeletons Can FLY
Usually, seen wandering on the Dutch coast during spring, Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests are more than the art objects. It is because Jansen is working constantly to embed life into these creations. This ultimate goal is to someday release them to independent life by the beach.
Explaining this goal for these skeletons, Jansen mentioned in an interview with National Geographic: ‘Give me a few million years and my Strandbeests will live completely independently’.
Now after so many years of his dedication, these creatures can fly several meters above the sea. They are made using PVC tubing along with ingenious techniques to use the wind to walk and fly them around on their own.
Jansen’s “Strandbeests” is admired by the public
Since its release in 1900, these wooden beach creations have impressed the general public. There are millions of views on the Youtube videos of these lumbering machines. Some designers have also turned Jansen’s creations into 3D printed versions or tiny toys. So, they are more like a cultural phenomenon in this generation.
Jansen also likes to take these beasts on different world tours from time to time. For instance, in 2014, he took these lumber machines on a tour to several destinations, including France, Russia, Japan, and the United States.
Now, Jansen is in his 70s and still has big ambitions for these wondrous creations. However, he is also fully aware that these are not living animals. These will get extinct one day when Jansen is not there to put efforts to keep them alive through the power of the wind. However, these will always remain alive in the digital world where millions of people love to watch these wood machines running and flying on a beach.
Watch the video given below to see the evolution of the Strandbeest Skeletons.