When I first saw Dutch artist Theo Jensen’s ‘Strandbeests’, his kinetic wind-powered creatures moving, my jealousy grew at a ferocious rate, knowing I won’t be able to see them at this year’s Art Basel Miami. Six kinetic creatures that eat ‘wind’ for power, with the largest measuring 42ft long, took over the beachfront. With skeletons made from PVC tubing, plastic bottles + recycled materials, ingeniously, each beast is able to move on its own with no trouble. The distance between the tubes, in fact, is what causes the motion of walking.
(photos: Theo Jensen)
Then, I couldn’t help but remember something called the ‘Soda Constructor’, the Java-based physics engine, central to Soda Creative’s collaborative learning environment ‘Sodaplay.com’, that crudely replicated its form to look a little like a ‘Strandbeest’. Created by Ed Burton, (Soda Creative’s Research + Development Director in April 2000, later on, a 2001 Interactive Arts BAFTA award winner) Sodaconstructor is a construction kit for interactive creations using masses + springs. By altering physical properties like gravity, friction, + speed, curiously anthropomorphic models can be made to walk, climb, wriggle, jiggle, or collapse into a writhing heap. Although the example below only shows 4 legs, you have the ability to add more or less, depending on your preference to then relish in seeing your creation come to life. Now, Jensen’s, you could say jumped out of the computer or paper, + into real life, to just keep us all in awe on how far a person’s passion can take them.
But when I saw this ‘Strandbeest’ move, with its legs so close together, as seen in the homage video below by Alexander Schlicter,
Marcel Duchamp’s 1912 ‘Nude Descending A Staircase, No. 2’ (below)
immediately came to mind + as well as a chorus line, similar to the one created for the SS/12 issue of a LOVE magazine editorial of the same name. Photographed by Solve Sundsbo in preparation for Louis Vuitton’s major retrospective at the Musee Des Arts Decoratifs, celebrating the history of the brand’s bags + shoes, the effect is quite beautiful in its simplicity.