The special exhibition Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen was at the Exploratorium May 27–September 5, 2016. This exhibition featured enormous kinetic sculptures called strandbeests—“beach animals” in Dutch—that mesmerized with their eerily lifelike motion. Constructed largely of PVC tubing and equipped with sensory organs and ever-evolving survival strategies, these amazing beests walked a wandering, wind-blown line between art and engineering, mechanics and biology.
Physicist-turned-artist Jansen has been creating strandbeests since 1990. Iteratively designed and intricately assembled, Jansen’s self-propelled creatures have evolved over the years, becoming increasingly complex and lifelike, with specialized adaptations to help them survive in their seaside environment.
On tour for the first time in North America, the exhibition was illuminated by artist sketches, immersive video, live beest demonstrations, and the lyrical photography of Lena Herzog, who spent more than seven years documenting the strandbeests’ evolution.