Two years ago I went to Exeter to see an incredible exhibition at the Spacex gallery, by Theo Jansen, a man who combines engineering with art to produce some incredible shows.
There was an old film of one of his earliest shows, in 1979 when he and some friends launched a 4 metre wide helium cushion over Delft in the Netherlands, which lmost caused a riot, then interviewed witnesses who claimed it was 30 metres wide, that they saw fire shooting from it, all sorts of nonsense. Even the police got things wrong. Maybe I don’t need that ‘even’. No matter. They never retrieved the balloon, but the stunt was later repeated over Paris.
He is now famous for making ‘Strandbeests’ or beach creatures out of old bits of plastic bottles and tubing. they are huge, and driven by wind – sails pump air into plastic bottles that walk or rather scuttle across the sand. They are incredible to watch, and he describes their evolution as if they were real creatures. Which of course, they are.
His work is the sort of thing to get people interested in the arts, in science, in ecology. Plus have some fun with bits of plastic on a beach. I don’t know why, but they remind me of the Pina Bausch dance theatre.
This is his animal rhinoceros. I think this one moves like a model on the catwalk.:
And an interview with the man himself. “the walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.”
And this is him on TED. That’s how good he is.