After Dark: BYOBeest

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Exploratorium, Pier 15

$15 General; $10 Members; Free for Lab Members; $10 Add-On Ticket for the Tactile Dome Available for Purchase Onsite

Adults Only (18+)

Note: Bring your strandbeest-inspired creation and receive $5 off of admission.

The strategy of the strandbeests is that they charm the people, they charm me, and they seduce people to make them. And they also seduce me to make them.

­­—Theo Jansen

Celebrate strandbeests—and their many mutant relations—with a menagerie of creatures inspired by Theo Jansen’s kinetic art. Encounter walking machines made with 3-D printed plastic, paper, and metal, variously powered by propellers, pedals, arduino-controlled motors, and string. Bring your own beest, whether built from a kit or your own design, or simply revel in roving mechanical wonders.

Strandbeests owe their animal grace to an ingenious leg mechanism Jansen created and developed over time. By freely sharing the “holy numbers” of his linkage design, the artist has inspired countless makers to (re)produce their own walking creatures, and thus contribute to the beests’ ongoing evolution.

Which species of beest will you bring?

Bring your own strandbeest-inspired creation and receive $5 off of admission.

Featured Beests:

By Scott Parenteau

Pedal-Powered Beest
By Adam Savage

Tonight's Schedule


Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Bechtel Central Gallery


By Scott Parenteau
7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 p.m. Walking Demonstrations
6:00–10:00 p.m. Installation | North Gallery

Inspired by Theo Jansen’s strandbeests and Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, Scott Parenteau initially created his tin spider to cruise around the playa at Burning Man. Primarily constructed out of sheet metal, this massive walking pod enables its pilot to glide over hostile terrain while sitting comfortably inside an acrylic-paneled dome.

By day, Scott Parenteau is a commercial welder who runs his own sheet metal fabricating business in Sacramento along with three colleagues. By night, he constructs metal geodesic dome mutant vehicles and pod cabins.

The Blind Watchmaker
With Paul Dancstep
7:30 and 8:30 p.m. | Kanbar Forum

Theo Jansen’s strandbeests are made up of many interesting organs. They have legs that take elegant strides. They have stomachs to store energy, allowing them to walk even when there’s no wind. They can even detect water and count their steps. Join Exploratorium Exhibit Developer Paul Dancstep to explore strandbeest anatomy and what it can show us about living things and the process of natural selection.

Paul Dancstep grew up in San Diego but has never been on a surfboard. He studied physics in college but is still baffled by things like zippers. He's been at the Exploratorium for more than a decade, building boxes, changing lightbulbs, and occasionally speaking to the public.

Strandbeest-Walking Demo
8:00 p.m. | Bechtel Central Gallery

Enjoy a live demonstration of one of Theo Jansen's pneumatically powered creations: Animaris Suspendisse or Animaris Umerus Segundus.

Pedal-Powered Beest
By Adam Savage
9:30 p.m. Walking Demonstration 
6:00–10:00 p.m. Installation | North Gallery

Witness the culmination of a three-day build by maker extraordinaire Adam Savage. Created onsite from countless pieces of steel, this 8-foot beest steers like a tank while its rider works bicycle pedals to lift 12 sneaker-shod feet.

Adam Savage has spent his life gathering skills that allow him to take what's in his brain and make it real. He's built everything from spaceships to dancing vegetables—and just about anything else you can think of. Along with Jamie Hyneman, Adam hosted the beloved Discovery Channel series MythBusters. He currently stars in and produces digital content for and continues teaching, lecturing, and consulting on a variety of topics.

Automata Equis
With Corey McGuire, Equis Collective
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Bechtel Central Gallery

Imagine a small herd of unearthly horses, languidly traversing no distance across an immense playa. Lit from within, they glow at night, casting eerie shadows as their animatronic limbs slowly stretch and strike the ground in a stationary march. Meet with Corey McGuire of the Equis Collective to observe a life-size mechanical mustang-in-progress and investigate the intersection between natural line and mechanical force.

Equis Collective is a group of artists, thinkers, makers, and rebels working together out of America Steel Studios in Oakland, CA. In addition to strandbeest-inspired horses, they have collaborated on many projects ranging from tiny houses to driftwood ships.

TE+ND Rover
With Marnia Johnston
6:30–9:30 p.m. | East Gallery

TE+ND (Terrestrial Exploration + Nurture Designed) Rovers are robotic fostering environments designed to care for their own garden of native plants by interacting with participants and actively seeking out light and water. Standing two feet wide by three feet tall, each rover has a ceramic hydroponic growing station atop a mechanically walking base. Attend a visiting TE+ND Rover to learn more about the plight of California’s native habitats and stretch your capacity for human-robotic empathy and engagement.

Marnia Johnston is an award-winning sculptor living in Concord, CA. When not collaborating with engineers, synthetic biologists, programmers and tinkerers, she continues to sculpt out of her studio in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood.

The Return of Slakslee
With Rob Moss Wilson
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Throughout the museum

Take a hop-on, hop-off tour of the Exploratorium traveling at exquisitely slow speeds measured in feet-per-hour.

Back by popular demand, Slakslee was inspired by Theo Jansen’s ability to infuse life and soul into elegant kinetic sculptures. Field Trip Explainers Rob Wilson and Danny Snyder first liberated Eric Thogersen’s evocative yet underutilized Moving Bench exhibit for last month’s After Dark: Strandbeest event. As Slakslee, the bench became a giant snail journeying inch by inch toward San Francisco.

Tonight’s Slakslee tour includes information about gear systems, snails, and the history of the arts at the Exploratorium. As you amble, your guide will highlight the science behind Slakslee and point out other overlooked Exploratorium experiences.

Rob Moss Wilson is a Field Trip Explainer Emeritus. As of now, his future is wide open. 

The Chariot and The Solar Surrey
By Bob Schneeveis and Wouter Suverkropp
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Throughout the museum

The Chariot is a set of full-size, mechanical legs pulling a ride-on chariot. Inspired by Bob's knee surgery, the biped has a natural walking motion entirely driven by a single electric motor through a combination of gears, linkages, and cams.

The Solar Surrey is a two-seater carriage pulled by four parallel mechanical legs. The single electric drive motor runs on solar power and is controlled through reigns.

Bob Schneeveis has been building electric racecars, art vehicles, and robots for more than 30 years. His mechanical creations include a motorized couch, a built-from-scratch electric motorcycle, a full-size walking robot, a mechanical pony that's hard to ride, and, most recently, a surrey pulled by four legs.

Wouter Suverkropp has tinkered with bicycles and electronics his entire life. He’s survived commuting on British highways on a low recumbent bicycle, and discovered that unicycles are not his thing. Suverkropp has been assisting Schneeveis at various venues for over a decade. During the week, he is an FPGA (field-programmable gate array, or integrated circuit) Product Line Manager at Xilinx, Inc.



Kinetic Musicale
With Mario Martinez-Muñoz
6:30–9:30 p.m. | South Gallery, Tinkering Studio

Linkages are the building block of many types of mechanical motion. Join us in the tinkering workshop to mess around with familiar and unfamiliar materials to create whimsical kinetic sculptures using musical instruments—maracas, xylophones, and tambourines—pegboards, and Lego motors and pieces. 

Strawbeests and Drawing with Linkages
With Explorables
7:00–10:00 p.m. | East Gallery Corridor 

Use drinking straws and other household materials to make miniature, moveable beests to take home.

Drawing with Linkages
Theo Jansen derived the ratios of linkages in his strandbeests through a combination of mathematic algorithm and artistic inspiration. Walk in the artist’s footsteps to explore shapes created by strandbeest linkages.

Run by a highly skilled, dedicated team of volunteers, Explorables drop-in workshops mix classic activities with open-ended investigations, encouraging participants to follow their hunches to aha moments of scientific insight.

Beest Breakroom
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery

Did you bring a beest to share? Do you and your creation need a break from the busy museum floor? Take a gander at other beestworks and meet your fellow makers in the Bay Observatory Gallery.

The breakroom is intended as a safe place for beests to rest while their makers enjoy After Dark. Please feel free to leave your beest with our breakroom volunteers—and make sure to pick it up before 9:30 p.m. Abandoned beests will be released into the wild.


A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Bernard and Barbro Osher West Gallery, Mind Cinema

Living in a world where machines replace humans in performance, Survival Research Laboratories’ (SRL) has staged shows consisting of ritualized interactions between machines, robots, and special effects devices since 1979. A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief (Jon Reiss, 1988, 13 min.) includes anthropomorphic robotic beasts (“panimals”) and eerie landscapes created by SRL founder Mark Pauline and Matt Heckert. The scenes reflect a beleaguered humankind in a hopeless world.

Jon Reiss has produced five documentaries featuring SRL, worked on numerous documentaries about the West Coast punk scene, directed music videos and feature films, wrote the breakthrough book Think Outside the Box Office, and currently teaches at the California Institute of the Arts. 

After Dark: BYOBeest is presented in conjunction with the temporary exhibition Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen

Photos © Lena Herzog

Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA. Audemars Piguet provided generous support as the tour's National Sponsor. This exhibition is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York. ABC7 is the local media sponsor with additional support from SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle.