Dutch Artist Creates ‘New Form of Life’

Theo Jansen 23 Animaris Rhinoceros 2004

Created by Dutch artist Theo Jansen, these lifelike skeletal creatures can found along the Dutch coastline. They are called Strandbeests, which means “beach animals” in Dutch, and come alive with only a slight breeze.

Over the past two decades Theo has been working to develop the Standbeests, which he describes as a new form of life that moves and survives on its own.

“I want to put these forms of life on the beaches and they should survive on their own over there in the future. Learning to live on their own,” says Theo.

The Strandbeests are made from light weight PVC tubing and lemonade bottles. Theo’s first creation had the tubes taped together, but it could not stand up, it could only lie on its back and move its legs.

Theo then began to connect the tubes with nylon zip strips.  With this method he was able to create his first animal that could stand and walk. After many hours of experimenting, Theo’s creatures have become more and more independent; more like the independent ‘life’ he hopes for.

Theo Jansen Animaris Adulari 2012

Many beachgoers marvel at the beauty of the Standbeests. It is almost unimaginable until you see it; herds of creatures moving and walking along the beach on their own, surviving only on the wind. But Jansen has never been interested their appearance.

“I was never interested in beauty as such. I was interested in survival, so everything was based on a consideration of function, how to make the things function better,” he says.

“The fascinating thing, though, was that here again, as with nature the better the functioning, often, the more beautiful the result.”

Theo Jansen Klis Umerus Silent beach

Photo Credit: Theo Jansen / Strandbeest.com

In order to survive the dangers of the beach the Strandbeests have evolved over time, much like any other form of life. They can sense the strength and direction of the wind, calculate the hardness of the sand, and they have feelers or tubes on the ends of their feet to prevent them from walking out to sea.

This May Theo will test a new animal on the beach. Will his ultimate dream be realized with his latest creation; a Strandbeest that lives and survives on its own?