(Video link here; We recommend watching with the sound OFF.) Dutch artist Theo Jansen has spent almost 30 years making “new forms of life”, majestic wind-powered mechanical beasts made of  PVC pipe, plastic ties, wood, and fabric,  in a fusion of art and engineering. Each iteration of his beautiful Strandbeests (literally sand-beasts, for their ability to walk on sandy shorelines) has slowly evolved using evolutionary computation techniques that Jansen devised. We deeply admire his enduring passion for the elemental AI that has literally taken on a life of its own, as seen in the video above.

We are reminded of poet Ted Hughes’ observation that

What you find in the outside world is what’s escaped from your own inner world.

 

exploratorium.edu

…And of the strangely perfect poem, Walking Beasts, by contemporary Chinese poet Luo Zhihai:

Walking beasts go through forest, wind helps with power
Running spring hits stone, valley echoes
Life often meets pouring rain
Illusion frequently produces heart alone

走獸穿林風助力
流泉擊石穀回音
人生常遇瓢潑雨
幻象 頻生寂寞心

 

Theo Jansen/Shapeways.com
Jansen has created a miniature 3-D printed version one of his Strandbeests that you can buy here, along with additional parts like a Propeller Propulsion, to make it move on its own. We found numerous Strandbeest Model Kits on Amazon.
With thanks to Cara De Silva for encouraging us to write about the ever-evolving Strandbeests….again. 

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