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19 February 2019
In collaboration with the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), Audemars Piguet presented six kinetic, wind-powered creatures titled Strandbeests, which also means “beach beasts” in Dutch, by artist Theo Jansen, during Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2014. Possessing an uncanny lifelike locomotion, Jansen’s Strandbeests are intricately constructed from PVC tubes, plastic bottles and recycled materials.
Through almost 30 years of experimentation and development near the seaside, Jansen's Strandbeests have evolved from rudimentary structures to complex creatures that are able to respond to environmental conditions by storing wind power, changing direction when they sense water and anchoring themselves during oncoming storms.
I try to make new forms of life.
Dutch artist, engineer and inventor Theo Jansen (b. 1948) studied physics at Delft University of Technology before turning to art and working as a painter. Although he left university before earning a degree, his passion for the physical sciences, specifically aeronautics and robotics, has continually shaped his creative output. Jansen’s most renowned project, the Strandbeests (or “beach beasts”), is a flock of massive, kinetic sculptures designed using software programmes for artificial life simulation and built using ordinary electrician’s piping. Jansen’s first model was built as a solution for beach erosion. His idea was that the wind-powered creatures could push sand from the retreating water’s edge, creating a natural barrier against the rising sea.
Jansen’s work has been shown internationally and honoured frequently, including with the Max Reneman Prize and the Special Jury Prize from Ars Electronica in 2005. His 2007 TED talk on the Strandbeests has attracted more than four million views.