The creatures that Theo Jansen creates are rambling tirelessly on the beaches. They never need to eat as they are fed on the wind.
The idea of this project first came to Jansen’s mind over 30 years when he was writing an article about the sea level rising in the North Sea. He had a picture in mind with skeletons walking on the beach and dancing in the wind. These skeletons would pile up sand dunes; as the sand dunes get taller and taller, they could possibly save the Netherlands from being submerged by the North Sea. This seemingly wild thought has planted the seed of his Strandbeest series.
Jansen thought of the idea once again when he visited a shop that sold plastic tubes that are commonly used by Dutch to hide electrical wires and cables. At the shop, he realized the plastic tubes could be the material for making his mobile skeletons. As a person who is interested in both physics and arts, Jansen brought home the tubes and spent the whole day on his experiment. Although the trial was a failure, he was not discouraged by it. Instead, he decided to invest one whole year to create a giant beast that can move freely in the wind. His experiment did not stop after the one year as he originally planned; he ended up spending almost 30 years and is still working on the project until today.
The first piece of work from the Strandbeest series was launched in 1990. Up until now, Theo Jansen has already created over 50 skeleton creature. It is so easy to be tricked into seeing them as living creatures when watching videos of them crawling on the beach.
The Sapporo Art Park is currently hosting a Theo Jansen exhibition that displays 13 of his work, including 3 new pieces. This is the first time ever for the Strandbeest to set foot on the Hokkaido beach, aren’t you curious to see if these skeleton creatures are adapting well on this foreign land?