Theo Jansen | A life dreaming of a life


 “Once awake, the dinosaur was still there”

– Augusto Monterroso.

From the appearance of life on Earth, around 2,970 million of spices has been extinguished and the big reptiles that rule in the Cretaceous- Tertiary period abruptly disappeared 65 millions of years ago, considering that we can imagine of how transcendent is to see an artist of such significance as Theo Jansen, boosting one of his living sculptures or Animaris (animal + sea), before the astonishment of more than 3,500 persons that crowded the opining in the Centro Contemporáneo de Arte de Cerrillos of the exhibition Algoritmos del viento, being Fundación Mar Adentro the curator.

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© Theo Jansen
© Theo Jansen

Guided by the desire of aniticipating the greenhouse effects, Theo Jansen (Scheveningen, Netherlands, 1948), physicist and sculptor, after researching various algorithmic simulation programs of artificial life, ventures into creating Strandbeests (beach beasts) with ropes, tapes and simple plastic tubes, a species moved by wind in order to shield dunes and sandbars before the progresive increase of the sea level in Dutch coasts. Though inhibit the water action is more than a mere desire: “Plastic tubes came into my life in 1990, in a beautiful September day. Since then, beach animals have taken control of my life”.

Little by little, a bond of both emotional and functional was created, which the same artist recognizes make him happy as dependent, what he shows with the interrelation emerged after consecutive spates of beings (orders and genres) that have allowed, after 27 non-stop years of work, the evolutionary scale to keep evolving until reach Animaris Mulus, his twelfth generation which is hoped to achieve full autonomy, and finally leave behind apprehensions mentioned by himself in his initial period. “Marked by the absence of matter and where life consists exclusively in dream of life”.

“I tried to forget about biologic nature to genuinely create a new shape”, Theo Jansen

© Theo Jansen
© Theo Jansen

Although here is more than cleared that for Theo Jansen nothing is unforgettable: “In my workshop, I try to make this ideas works, but tubes always complain against. They always want to make things different”. However, that pretends to be a setback, in evolutionary matter is a major breakthrough. That’s why several generations have different outcomes, it allows a new offspring or linage to nourish by who is predecessor. A learning which by the way emphasize the curatorial team. “Today they are part of a lineage that composes an own evolutionary system with different periods, each one marked by new relationships with the resources and materials”, he explains, What has given a number of combinations, like a brain with a binary step counter that redirect the walker’s actuate, a energy-storing system via wings that pump air into lemonade bottles or air stomaches, a crankshaft or backbone pushed by pneumatic muscles or even creatures that fix a bolt to the ground to avoid being swept along by the tide, and tentacles that are buried at an angle to push the animal forward while the animal throws circles of sand.

Hundreds of unusual mutations that in fact must be understood like certainties and adaptations that strengthen these colossal kinetic sculptures. A fact that accidentally pull this imaginary geologic layers back evading time from an eventual future past, operated by the logic that, as Richard Feynman claims: “It is not possible to trick nature” neither purport that it rectifies everything. Something that largely Theo Jansen assumes: “I tried to forget about biologic nature to genuinely create a new shape”. It is precisely here where the hazard and the intuition enter to play a role that ends up being turned into art, since the last one was who gives him the freedom to create something amazing, that didn’t start with an illumination state, but from a simply Atari, and after years of making adjustments to a disconcerting life cycle, he traveled all over the world exhibiting his work, and even to appear in the Simpsons’ tenth chapter of the 28 season together with his beloved Strandbeests and these Algoritmos del viento that today make us live an unforgettable experience.

© Theo Jansen
© Theo Jansen

Nevertheless, it is opportune to emphasize the curatorial work that, more than a tour, proposes a referential recount that includes sketches with different experimentation lines and small-scale prototype of each Animaris. Tracing an imaginary time line, where fictional space guided the visitor by different evolutionary periods (from Gluton to Bruchum), making a perfect communion between what is didactic and magic, specially in the second level where also we advance along a beach in parallel with one of these living creatures, that due to the position of their sails and the series of energy-storing bottles allow them self-propel and walk across the sand, accompanied by the guttural sounds of their habitat, reproduced in a video with waves filling the secene.

Suggestive athmosfere that match with the desire of the very author of broadening the art and science boundaries through a work that for the first time comes to Chile directed to all audiences, who will be amazed with these Algoritmos del viento, essential exhibition in an age where the social network obsession many times get us apart from these unique moments in which we get back to childhood and see the world simply and sensitive, same of who dreamed with life as of PVC tubes. Because, after all, as Hubert Reeves says: “If we reduce any physical existence to the most basic one, we will find energy and vibration”.

Other exhibitions in Santiago de Chile:

La Poética del Residuo | Catalina González y Carlos Rivera | Sala de Arte CCU | 5/04-1/06



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