February signals the next invasion of Melbourne’s CBD by giant sculptures/installations. The enormous babies have disappeared (see Angels-Demons from Melbourne Festival) and now it’s Strandbeests’ (beach animals) turn.
In Federation Square’s latest artist commission, a Strandbeest will be on display in The Atrium next month. At twelve metres long, four metres high and two metres wide with wing-like sails, it’s a giant and resembles a walking fossil. Made mostly from stiff plastic tubes and plastic bottles and equipped with its own artificial intelligence, Strandbeests are the invention of Dutch artist, Theo Jansen.
Since 1990 Jansen has been busy with one major task, constructing animals that can walk powered only by the wind. His ideas have evolved into these complex creatures with rotating spines, legs and stomach and lengthening muscles, which enable them to react to their own environment. “These evolving sculptures each take on the survival skills of the last generation, using a rudimentary intelligence to dig into the sand when a storm is sensed or to avoid obstacles like the ocean. Eventually I want to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives,” said Jansen.
The beasts have travelled well (Austria, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and the UK) and one will now be making its first Australian trip.
Visit Strandbeests from 1 February to 26 February at The Atrium at Federation Square (entry is free).
View Strandbeests in motion in a BBC interview with Jansen below: