Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests Coming To The Exploratorium San Francisco

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests at the Exploratorium. (Photo Gayle Laird/Exploratorium)
Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests at the Exploratorium. (Photo Gayle Laird/Exploratorium)

Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen features large-scale kinetic sculptures, including Jansen’s newest Animaris Umerus Segundus, as well as artist sketches, immersive video, and the lyrical photography by Lena Herzog, who spent more than seven years documenting the Strandbeests’ evolution. The exhibition – organized by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) – is the first large-scale museum presentation of Jansen’s Strandbeests in the Americas. The Exploratorium serves as the exclusive West Coast venue.

First conceived as a thought experiment in the spirit of Albert Einstein, Strandbeests have evolved over the last 20 years through Jansen’s passionate process of prodigious tinkering, iteration and adaptation. Made entirely of PVC pipe and zip ties, the animals were originally inspired by the threat of rising sea levels; the mechanical creatures were functional and able to pile sand back up on the dunes. Over time, the animals evolved as Jansen became more fascinated with exploring ideas around the origins of life.

Participatory, hands-on, and kinetic, the exhibition invites the public to “walk” a Strandbeest (Animarus Ordis) in the galleries. The exhibition features some of Jansen’s most recent and ambitious Strandbeests, including the 42-foot-long, pneumatically powered Animaris Suspendisse, which features a responsive nervous system, sweat glands and wind stomachs. A collection of “fossils” (the term Jansen uses for his retired creations) and the future of their evolution is celebrated through a section of the exhibition that captures Jansen’s 20-year process of invention.

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests
Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests

On View This Summer: May 27 – September 5, 2016

Exploratorium
Pier 15 – Embarcadero at Green Street
San Francisco, California

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