The Kid Should See This

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest on the beach in San Francisco

Join Adam Savage as he talks with Dutch physicist-turned-artist Theo Jansen. The subject: Strandbeests — “beach animals” in Dutch. For the very first time, Jansen has brought his wind-fueled kinetic sculptures to windy San Francisco where they’ll be on display at The Exploratorium from May 27 through September 5, 2016.

Constructed from plastic PVC tubing, zip ties, and string, strandbeests are the ultimate in humble down-home DIY. But they come to life with animal grace the second they begin to move: Wings flap. Tubular muscles extend. Knobby knees flex. Feet lift. Wind is gulped and stored for energy.

The beach animals’ simple parts belie their complex construction and behaviors. Mechanical nerves trigger reflexes that border on thought. Always, survival is the goal. One beest detects an incoming tide, turns, and beats a retreat to higher ground. Another, sensing the high winds of a storm, pounds an anchor into the sand to keep itself from blowing away.

Get a behind the scenes peek at the exhibition with Tested’s Norm Chan:

In the archives: Adam Savage puts together a Strandbeest model kit.

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