Imagine giant creatures being propelled along the strand by wind power. Their many legs move in response to the power of the wind. These are Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest. At one reach, a bit risible, and at another, a meditation on how evolution might go under other circumstances. I had seen video clips of Jansen’s creations online for several years and wondered what their actual scale and construction were like.
My opportunity to see strandbeest in person came when the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, hosted an exhibit of Jansen’s strandbeest. Strandbeest are large articulated constructions, almost too large to be contained in an exhibit area. Jansen designed them to move about on the beach powered by the wind. In a museum setting, people provide the energy to move them about.
Periodically I like to watch the clips I recorded at the exhibit and the construction details. I enjoy thinking about what might happen if a herd of strandbeest suddenly appeared on a Massachusetts beach one day, moving in the wind and striding about.
Panic? I imagine the scene from a horrible 1950s Sci-Fi movie as beachgoers scramble to leave the beach, hauling little children in their wake and abandoning tubs of beer and food…screaming. Hmmm, I’ve been watching too many old movies, I guess.