Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Theo Jansen

Theo Jansen’s artworks are unique and can be quite awkward because they are unfamiliar to us. Jansen is an engineer and sculptor; therefore, he combines both of his occupations into his artworks. The result is that of some sort of animated walking skeleton of an inexistent animal. Theo calls them his ‘’creatures’’ and talks about them as if they were truly alive. They are highly good for the environment because they feed on wind and live by water. With the help of the wind, they can move on their own and their nose always follows the wind. Once the ‘’creature’’ encounters an object that is blocking its way or is at the other end of the beach, the brain of the artwork makes it turn to the opposite direction and carries on its way. If the artwork touches water or dry sand, a tube that is linked to the brain will suck in some of the water, then force it back out which will make it go to the moist sand so it will not stay stuck nor be destroyed. Jansen would say that it is their way of survival. When the object senses that a storm is coming, it hammers itself into the sand in order to stay in place and not follow the tide into the sea. However, it is still not entirely independent. Once it has hammered itself to the ground, it cannot come out without the help of its creator. Some of the creations have ‘’wings’’ that are flicker gracefully in the wind, which makes them move. What is strange about those creations is that Theo does not try to make them look like any mixture of animals we know, such as a lion and a goat, nor does he try to add skin, colour or expressions. What he seems to want is to focus on the engineering itself so it can be able to walk, protect itself and basically act like other wild animals. The artworks move like some sort of insect like spiders and it has the shape of a skeleton. Its scale varies but it usually quite big, but is light enough to be able to be pushed by the wind. Theo Jansen dreams that his creatures will eventually travel around in herds on the beach independently without the help of their creator. However, what would the people who are tanning on the beach think of this? Theo does not seem to care because he believes that they are wild creatures that will roam freely.

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