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Rowan's Group: Artist Research Project

Theo Jensen
Kinetic Sculptor

For my artist research project I choose the kinetic sculpture Theo Jensen. I first remember seeing his sculptures on a BMW commercial a while back. Some time this year I came across some of his videos on youtube and for the sake of doing an artist research project I choose him.
Theo Jensen is a native to the shores of the Netherlands, born in Hague and a graduate of Delft in the Netherlands, works on perfecting his moving, “living” sculptures. He didn’t always see him self as an artist since he graduated with a degree in physics, but messed around with painting until he began working on his “strandbeests”.
He likes to call them strandbeest but they are no more than sculptures or creatures capable of surviving in an environment between the dunes of a beach and the surf of the sea. His is capable of accomplishing this by simply using electrical tubing (like PVC), pneumatic tubing, used lemonade bottle and plastic sheeting. By putting these elements together and with enough wind, his creatures are able to come alive. His goal is to make it so that his sculpture can survive on the beaches by themselves. He hopes to do this by a type of evolution where models that work best are crossed with another to make a superior strandbeest.
He like to pull his ideas for new sculptures from nature and what has already been proven to work. From there he can mix and match features that work best for a model. He even says that when deciding on how to build the next “beest” he thinks purely practical and that they come out looking like awesome sculpture only because that’s how it worked out.
To him the motivation for his work is to understand what it takes for life to occur and continue. By making these “creatures” he is able to understand the needs and limits that can be impressed on a creature.
One of the biggest reasons that I choose Jensen’s work was because of the way that I first saw it. I was surfing YouTube and I came across his strange pipe built creatures and just from seeing them and how they moved I wanted to look at more of his work and mainly do this essay on his work. So after looking at how I was able to see his work I’d like to compare that to the way Susan Opton and the way that she was able to display her work and the controversy that sprung out of it.
Though the ways that that Jensen and Opton display their work in different ways the fact that there is a certain amount of mystery behind them is what really pulls their viewers in. Watching a minute long clip of Jensen’s “beests” I tried to figure out exactly what these things are and what there supposed to do. You’re able to make out legs and wings but the movements of multiple parts make it impossible to identify. But for Opton and her soldier photos, there’s questions like “is that solder alive or dead” and “why is he on the floor with that face.” I find that these artist that although they work in different mediums there art work isn’t strait forward and make the viewers have to answer some of their own questions.

If someone asked me if they had the chance to see work from Theo Jensen or hear him speak, I would have to express my jealousy towards them. Jensen having the thought process of an engineer and the products of an artist, and the fact that very few other people have tried to approach something like this way before make him a unique person that I think anyone would enjoy.

His own website
An interview by Delana

Good video that covers his work. As show on TED