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Living Sculptors by Theo Jansen

Updated on April 24, 2016

Amazing kinetic sculptors by Dutch Artist & Engineer

This hub is dedicated to Theo Jansen, a Dutch Artist and Engineer famous for creating weird and wonderful kinetic sculptors that are brought to life using wind power. His sculptors are the result of a creative fusion between art and engineering creating in a way that has to be seen to be believed.

I am an admirer of both Art and design, and when I came across the concept of Kinetic Sculptors during one of my work projects i was both amazed as well as fascinated by them.

Theo is a true artist and a man with both passion and vision. This Hub pages is just a small collects of some of the interesting video's i have founds on his works and Kinetic Sculptors. In addition to a brief background of Theo Jansen himself.

Theo Jansen also is touring the US in his first mayor exhibition "Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen" which is currently at the Chicago Cultural Center until May 2016. Afterward the exhibition will be heading to the Exploratorium in San Francisco. More details and dates of the exhibition can be found on Theo Jansen's official website in the links section of this hub.

I hope you will enjoy this hub page and if you are interested in other design related topics then please check out my other hub pages which are focused around art and design.


The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen Tour Miami Beach 2015

Published in 2015, The Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen is a book by photographer and artist Lena Herzog who has for the past seven years been documenting the evolution of Dutch artist's creation of kinetic sculpture.

Lena Herzog has also published other works in The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Vanity Fair.

About Theo Jansen

Theo Jansen was born in Scheveningen in the Netherlands in 1948. He studied physics at Delft University of Technology and is a Dutch artist and engineer who's is most famous for creating what are known as "kinetic sculptors". and for over 20 years he has been building these large amazing sculptors that resemble skeletons of animals that are able to walk by using the wind on the beaches of the Netherlands. These creatures or "Strandbeests" as they are known, meaning "Beach Beasts" in Dutch are able move in a life-like way, and with each successful generation of new designs and forms these creatures evolve into new types. Theo's vision for his creations is to eventually have his creatures live autonomously on the beach without any human assistance.

Since 1990, Theo Jansen has been creating his kinetic sculptors. However the first breeds were not able to move without assistance from its creator but as they slowly evolved, each generation of the creatures were more able to react to their environment:

"over time, these skeletons have become increasingly better at surviving the elements such as storms and water and eventually I want to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives."

The Strandbeests are constructed from an assemblages of PVC piping, wood, water bottles and wing-like sails and are an fusion of both art and mechanical engineering. Theo's Strandbeests and works has also been featured in a BMW television commercial promoting innovation and design and has been quoted by saying

"The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds."

Theo's creatures are constantly evolving and uniquely adapted for life on the sandy beach environment. They are able to walk on the beach powered only by the wind capturing energy by gossamer wings that flap and pump air into old lemonade bottles that in turn power the creatures' many plastic spindly legs. In some creatures when there is no wind available, They are able to use stored air pressure collected from the wind and use it in its absence:

"Self-propelling beach animals like Animaris Percipiere have a stomach. This consists of recycled plastic bottles containing air that can be pumped up to a high pressure by the wind."

These amazing sculptures seems to be alive as they move across the sand and with the more sophisticated creatures being able to sense danger such as the ocean or loose sand. One creature is even able to anchor itself to the sand if it senses an approaching storm. Theo's constantly strives to give his creature their own intelligence and create life in his sculptors so that one day they will no longer need him to survive. And can live in herds on the beaches so they are able to live their own lives.

In 2007 Theo spoke at the TED Conference in California and also at the Creativity World Forum in 2008 about his works and creations.

Theo Jansen TED Talk 2007 - & Creativity World Forum 2008

Make your own Kinetic Sculptors with these amazing kits

Theo Jansen - Creativity World Forum 2008

TEDxDelft 2011 - Theo Jansen - A new breed of beach animals or Living Sculptors

Other interesting video's featuring Theo Jansen's living sculptors - The weird and wonderful world of Theo Jansen


  • BMW Ad, Featuring Theo Jansen
  • Wallace & Gromit's World of Inventions BBC
  • Strandbeest ("Beachbeast")

Theo Jansen in Wallace and Gromit's world of Inventions Science Series

A BBC One science show featuring the animated claymation characters Wallace and Gromit, Join Wallace in a light hearted and humorous look at the real-life inventors, contraptions, gadgets and inventions, with the silent help of Gromit. The series aims to inspire a whole new generation of innovative minds by showing them real, but mind-boggling, machines and inventions from around the world that have influenced his illustrious inventing career."

Episode 1 "Nature Knows Best" Featuring Theo Jansen

This short feature about Theo Jansen is a great introduction to his magical beasts and the man himself. And along with mini replica beast DIY kits would be an ideal gift for any budding young artist or aspiring engineer. even if they are not it will put them on the path.

Wallace & Gromits World of Invention [Blu-ray]
Wallace & Gromits World of Invention [Blu-ray]

"Nature Knows Best" Featuring Theo Jansen

This short feature about Theo Jansen is a great introduction to his magical beasts and the man himself. And along with mini replica beast DIY kits would be an ideal gift for any budding young artist or aspiring engineer. even if they are not it will put them on the path.


Guestbook Comments - Share your thoughts about Theo Jansen and his Living Sculptors

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    • Newbie2011 profile image

      Al 4 years ago from Australia, Hong Kong, USA

      @Mommy-Bear: Hi There Mommy Bear, Thx for dropping by, i would love to see that Doc. Can you share the name or provide a links for us. Best

    • Mommy-Bear profile image

      Mommy-Bear 4 years ago

      Hi these are so fascinating, I saw a documentary about him a while back.

    • Whistleman profile image

      Whistleman 5 years ago

      Thanks for posting this. I've enjoyed Theo Jansen's work for a while now - very interesting blend of art, engineering and even a little fantasy.