Existential Moments with Theo Jansen and His Amazing Kinetic Sculptures, the Strandbeests

One gets the impres­sion that Theo Jansen sub­scribes to Dan­ish Philoso­pher Soren Kierkegaard’s max­im : Once you label me, you negate me.

(Aw hell, just acci­den­tal­ly negat­ed Kierkegaard again…)

In any event, no sin­gle label can suf­fice where Jansen is con­cerned. A mak­er of kinet­ic sculp­tures who resists defin­ing him­self as an artist. A trained physi­cist who cel­e­brates evo­lu­tion as a ‘mir­a­cle.’ An ear­ly morn­ing opti­mist. An evening depres­sive. An engi­neer of life, pre­oc­cu­pied by death.

All this is to say, Theo Jansen is an orig­i­nal, as com­pelling as the awe­some, lum­ber­ing crea­tures he con­jures from plas­tic tub­ing and wind. Hear him speak for him­self, above. Watch his Strand­beests in action below. And don’t feel bad if the labels you’ve spent a life­time amass­ing begin to feel a bit nar­row com­pared.

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day built a Rube Gold­berg Device under duress.


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