The value of Theo Jansen‘s world

The man I would like to write about has mes­mer­ized me a few years ago and still makes me fol­low his pro­gress. It is pos­sible that you’ve already come across the work of this so called Da Vinci of these days on the Internet. His art­works have been mul­tiply­ing in there, as they are really unique. A few years ago I didn’t have this pos­sib­il­ity but now I’m pleased to intro­duce Theo Jansen.

I don’t like writ­ing bio­graph­ies, so I’ll just put it briefly: Theo used to study phys­ics but then he dis­covered him­self in draw­ing and left the uni­ver­sity. I won’t be talk­ing about his early art­works either. I was sud­denly cap­tiv­ated by his unique way to see the world around us and to per­ceive motion as a phe­nomenon. What I admire most is that when it seems that a cer­tain prob­lem doesn’t have any other res­ol­u­tion, someone appears and makes you con­ceive it in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way. Theo is exactly that type of per­son who cre­ated an altern­at­ive for such an old and com­mon arti­fact as a wheel and simply asked “Why not?”

Another mar­velous thing is that the mean­ing of his kin­etic creatures is more aes­thetic and philo­soph­ical than sci­entific or fin­an­cial (actu­ally, I can­not be cer­tain, there­fore, I leave it to decide for those who’re more con­cerned about this). For cen­tur­ies land trans­port was con­fined to cir­cu­lar frame. But if we move on our own feet why human came up with an idea to move things with a help of wheel? It’s under­stand­able as a circle is a prim­it­ive fig­ure and it might be made without much effort there’s no won­der that pre­his­toric human gladly accep­ted it. On the other hand, this proves that before men­tioned pre­his­toric human indeed had a dif­fer­ent per­cep­tion and a flex­ible mind since every­one else around prob­ably ima­gined that the trans­port of the future will be based on walk­ing and on everything what they see in motion around.

This art is both social and philo­soph­ical that’s why it’s so charm­ing. When I see Theo’s creatures grace­fully passing windy sands I start believ­ing that this artist and the man upstairs are some­how con­nec­ted in a par­tic­u­lar way. Even though, one of them changed the world more than another, nowadays we seek to leap from our daily wheels to air glid­ing. While an ordin­ary man believes that everything is already inven­ted, that all chords are dis­covered and that all tech­no­lo­gies are pro­jec­ted hun­dreds of years ahead, Theo simply turns away from the so called pro­gress and closes up in his own world.

I will cre­ate my own labor­at­ory for sand creatures on the top of this moun­tain” that’s what Theo said when he star­ted his pro­ject in Ypenburg.

Kinetic sculptor – that’s how he names him­self. Theo also claims that his art­works are liv­ing creatures. This might be true, since we are all pushed by nat­ural forces and his “Sabulosa” (a sand fly) or “Animaris Rhinoceros” (a rhino­ceros) that instantly become in motion with the help of the wind. These wights might even be con­scious as they already dis­tin­guish land from the sea. And where’s land, there they can slowly move while wind nur­tures them. Could this be a gen­er­a­tion of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence? But again, these ques­tions are philo­soph­ical. Each sci­ent­ist could eas­ily come up with a contradiction.

I could med­it­ate and med­it­ate on this mat­ter. Even though oth­ers may find it worth­less but that magical never end­ing leg motion, as well as the wheel, hyp­not­izes and like a fresh whiff of air gives a very pleas­ant feel­ing. For this reason, I find Theo Jansen’s inven­tion truly meaningful.

Aleksandr Pasevin
About author:
Aleksandr Pasevin
Aleksandr Pasevin is Art Pit’s strategist and designer, responsible for organization’s creative solutions. Aleksandr is also actively interested in new technologies, their connection with creativity and usage in cultural organizations. Aleksandr dislikes long discussions and considerations, and he mostly expresses his opinion quickly about whet... Read further >
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