[ISEA2014] Keynote: Theo Jansen – Beach Beasts


Known as the Leonardo Da Vinci of the 21st century, Dutch Theo Jansen has devoted his body and soul to creating a new life-form over the last two decades. His Strandbeest (Beach Beasts) look so organic and real that from a distance they are mistaken for the skeletons of prehistoric dinosaurs. However, they are made of basic materials such as plastic tubes or sticky tape. With no need for motors or any kind of technological aids, Jansen manages to make these creatures come to life; they only require the force of the wind and beach sand. Engineering, biomechanics and art blend together in the surprising work of Theo Jansen, taking the concept of kinetic sculpture to its peak.
Anyone observing the beauty of these sculptures walking across the sand for the first time, will immediately understand that the work of this engineer, scientist and artist is exceptional. Jansen studies the history of biological evolution in order to endow the new generation of his creatures with increasing abilities. He even establishes eras or periods for his beasts, that evolve as if they were real dinosaurs.

  • After dropping out of his Physics degree at the Universtiy of Delft (The Netherlands), Theo Jansen began working as a painter in the mid 70s. Later on, he developed an interest in robotics and aeronautics. His first inventions where his UFO, a spaceship in the shape of a flying saucer that terrorised the inhabitants of Delft, and his painting machine, a robot that created graffiti on a wall. In the early 80s, Jansen’s interest in designing live and autonomous organisms through the use of software led him to start this series of kinetic sculptures —Strandbeest— endowed with spectacular elegance in their movement, which can be over 10 meters tall. This project has provided him with broad worldwide recognition and his fame has trespassed all imaginable boundaries.   strandbeest.com