Theo Jansen

The0 Jansen /

Theo Jansen wants to make “life” and he figures the best way to do it is to start from scratch.

A self-styled god, Jansen is evolving an entirely new line of animals: immense multi-legged walking critters designed to roam the Dutch coastline, feeding on gusts of wind. Over the years, successive generations of his creatures have evolved into increasingly complex animals that walk by flapping wings in response to the wind, discerning obstacles in their path through feelers and even hammering themselves into the sand on sensing an approaching storm.


A scientist-turned-artist, Jansen’s bizarre beach animals have their roots in a computer program that he designed 17 years ago in which virtual four-legged creatures raced against each other to identify survivors fit enough to reproduce. Determined to translate the evolutionary process off-screen, Jansen went to a local shop and found his own alternative to the biological cell — the humble plastic tube.


“Animals are machines as well,” said Jansen. “I was making animals with just the tubes because they were cheap but later on they turned out to be very helpful in making artificial life because they are very flexible and multifunctional as well. I see it now as a sort of protein — in nature, everything is almost made of protein and you have various uses of protein; you can make nails, hair, skin and bones. There’s a lot of variety in what you can do with just one material and this is what I try to do as well.”

(Exerpt from an article by Lakshmi Sandhana)


Since 1990 Theo Jansen is working on a new nature. By doing this he hopes to fathom real nature.

His nature exists of skeletons made of yellow electricity tubes. They walk by the wind. In the end Theo Jansen wants to set out his animals (Animari) on the beaches so they can live their own lives.
During the years the animals were due to evolution; they become better and better. In the future they will survive the storms and the tides.

1968 Studies Technical Science at Delft University
1975 Cuts of his study and becomes an artist.
1980 UFO over Delft. Flying scaucer (four metres)
flies over Delft and throws the town in commotion.
1980 Film about the UFO by Otakar Votochek
1986 Start of the column “REFLECTIE” in the science part of
De Volkskrant (national newspaper).
1986 Rotterdam Computerprint, fourty metres, three metres high
Central Station.
1987 The Hague Drillingmachineproject. Instead of a drill there
was placed a propellor in the drillingmachine. It was hanging
at the cord between two high buildings. It flew so called
lissajous figures. Recorded by openlens photos.
1992 Appearence of the book “Zogenaamd Ik”(”So Called Me”)
Bzzth The Hague.
1992 Ideas for televisionprogram “WATT!?” VPRO about phylosofy
and science.
1994 Columns for Metropolis M (Artmagazin)
1994 Gets the Sandbergprize (encouranging part) by the city of
1996 Max Renemanprize
1996 Appearence of the book KLIMMEN IN LUCHT Uitg. SUN
1999 Exibition Panorama 2000 Centraal Museum Utrecht