Last night I was reading an article in The New Yorker, an article like many of the articles in the magazine that somehow make me feel as if I should have known about this or that because this and that are so astounding and amazing. Other than the occasional snide and snarky first pages, The New Yorker makes me happy in that read with your nose buried in your book kind of way, and last night I opened it to Ian Frazier's The March of the Strandbeests. Frazier's first sentence is: If you're like many people, you know about Theo Jansen already.
I had never heard of Theo (pronounced Tayo) Jansen, nor had I viewed with more than 4 million others the videos of Mr. Jansen's creations nor had I even seen one of those creatures called Strandbeests.
Reader! Have you heard of Theo Jansen and his Strandbeests? If you have, why didn't you tell me about him and them? And if you haven't, you must.
Strandbeests are Theo Jansen's kinetic sculptures, and he aims to create an entire world of them. Made from miles and miles of PVC tubing, the finished animals are rather ungainly yet spectacularly beautiful. And when I watched one of the seemingly thousands of videos on Youtube, I was struck by their similarity to Sophie and to perhaps other disabled and broken people. Perhaps it was their habitat on the beach, their precise yet awkward gait, or the gentle prodding of Jansen when he set them up, but I imagined Sophie when she wanders down the sand, powerful and glorious.