Introducing Theo Jansen

In an unprecedented fusion of art and sciences, Theo Jansen has developed an artificial life form of evolutionary increasing intelligence and independence.  Using seemingly ordinary components, Theo has created an extraordinary literally living work of art.

His Story

Theo Jansen was born in Scheveningen in the Netherlands in 1948.  As a young man, Jansen came to personify the Divincian dichotomy of artist and scientist, as he became a painter and student of physics at the Delft University of Technology.  After college, Jansen’s interests expanded to include aeronautics and robotics.  Theo first gained notoriety for his innovative ideas in 1980 when he created a public uproar in Delft by floating a small, unmanned UFO of his design over the city.  He later repeated the UFO display over Paris.

In the early 1980’s Theo demonstrated his engineering mastery when he developed a robot that created graffiti art.  Equipped with a light cell, the painting machine responds to light and shadow stimuli within its environment, and creates 2D silhouette paintings.

It was also during the 1980’s that Jansen began creating algorithm programs for artificial life simulations.  In 1990 Theo began applying his studies to developing a new form of life that he named “Strandbeest” (beach beast).  The Strandbeest moves on its own and responds to environmental elements for self-preservation, just like an organic life form.  Sandbeests are experiencing evolution at an accelerated rate as Jansen applies his studies of the history of biological evolution from his laboratory in Ypenburg.

As Eco consciousness and alternative power solutions move to the center of future urban planning, Jansen’s innovative answers to pressing challenges are more valuable than ever before.  Thanks to Jansen, art and technology are evolving together and creating life from previously inanimate objects.  The possibilities for this developing and evolving technological artwork are boundless.  Jansen’s self replicating prototypes mean that one day soon the Strandbeest will be a completely independent life form. This means that Theo has created the very first art form with the ability to procreate.  Art is truly imitating life on a level never before believed possible.