Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strandbeests and Sophie

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.


  1. No, I had never heard of Theo or his creatures. Thank you for educating me!


  2. Wow. I haven't gotten there in the New Yorker yet. WHY HAVEN'T we known of this before now?
    Unbelievably beautiful. Yes, like Sophie.

  3. I believe I posted this on the old Beading Stars. Since I deleted the whole thing I cannot find it now. That was way back in maybe 2007 or 2008, which can only mean not that I was ahead of the rest of the readers but that I must have been bored to tears and read anything and everything that came into my hands while I was ill.

    Married to a Physicist it is hard not to know about all these rare things, whether you want to or not. However, as you know I do want to know about rare things :)

  4. I saw a special on TV about him, or was it a DVD? Anyhoo,I remember what struck me most about the whole endeavor was the strength of his vision.

    I put Jansen in the same category as sculptor, Andy Goldsworthy. Have you seen the documentary about Goldsworth's work, Rivers and Tides? Come to think of it, maybe it was on that Rivers and Tides DVD that I saw Jansen's work.

    The New Yorker overwhelms me. I get behind in reading them, and then they begin piling up around my house in the most accusatory manner. I had to stop my subscription.

  5. Amazing. I think there's some guy who positions plastic bag sculptures over air vents in New York......

  6. He did a TED Talk a while back and showed the video of them walking the beach. SO COOL.

    Love the comparison with Sophie walking the beach.


  7. I don't need the New Yorker, just you! I have never heard of them and I love that you shared this. I can't wait to show my kids. These are the coolest thing ever!

  8. I was just amazed by this video and had to share with family and friends! Incredible...

  9. Oh! I have heard of him (and them) and now feel uber hip and up-with-things! They are beautiful and strange, like our lives.

  10. If I just live with my eyes open to the beauty around me, I don't worry about what I haven't learned yet.

    Theo's creation and vision were a joy to see. Thanks for sharing it.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...