Excerpt, “Power Of The Word” taken from Dr. Maya Angelou’s audio book, “Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now”.
Theo Jansen was born in 1948, in Scheveningen in the Netherlands. He grew up with a knack for both physics and art, and studied physics at the University of Delft. While at Delft, Jansen was involved in many projects that involved both art and technology, including a paint machine and a UFO. In 1990, he began what he is known for today: building large animals out of PVC that are able to live on their own. His animated works are a fusion of art and engineering; in a car company (BMW) television commercial Jansen says: “The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.” He strives to equip his creations with their own artificial intelligence so they can avoid obstacles by changing course when one is detected, such as the sea itself. Theo Jansen has been creating wind-walking examples of artificial life since 1990. What was at first a rudimentary breed has slowly evolved into a generation of machines that are able to react to their environment: “over time, these skeletons have become increasingly better at surviving the elements such as storms and water, and eventually I want to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.” Constructed as intricate assemblages of piping, wood, and wing-like sails, Jansen’s creatures are constantly evolving and have become excellently adapted to their sandy beach environment. The creatures sport legs, which “prove to be more efficient on sand than wheels…they don’t need to touch every inch of the ground along the way, as a wheel has to”. The creatures are also able to store air pressure and use it to drive them in the absence of wind: “Self-propelling beach animals like Animaris Percipiere have a stomach. This consists of recycled plastic bottles containing air, that can be pumped up to a high pressure by the wind.” Theo’s more sophisticated creations are able to detect once they have entered water and walk away from it, and one species will even anchor itself to the earth if it senses a storm approaching. Since 1990 Theo Jansen has been occupied with the making of a new nature. Not pollen or seeds but plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic material of this new nature. He makes skeletons which are able to walk on the wind. Eventually he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives. Before Theo Jansen start his lifes work of building animals out of PVC he had done a project that would inspire him to use PVC on other projects. This project, a UFO, was a nice piece of a prank, technology and some art combined. A project which as his website states: “caused a near-riot”. The UFO: In 1979 Theo Jansen started using PVC pipes (which were very cheap) to build a 4 meter wide flying saucer that was filled with helium. In was launched ot over Delft in 1980 on a day when the sky was very light. This caused an interesting effect when they launched it: because of the light and sound that came out of the saucer and the fact that it was black (against a light sky) made it hard to guess its size. The police even said it was 30 meters wide and some people swore they saw a halo around it. He said that they never found it and that it had probably landed somewhere in Belgium, he later redid the project but then over Paris. The painting machine was a somewhat bigger project than the UFO as it was developed from 1984-86 in Delft and was a really ingenious machine. It consisted of a tube with a light cell situated at its end which when darkness ‘hit’ it it would start spraying. This created paintings of the silhouetes of the things/people who were standing in front of it. This machine was attached to a large piece of wood and hoisted againt a wall where it would move back and forth and create 2D images of everything there was in the room.
The art of creating creatures by Theo Jansen WWW.GOODNEWS.WS