enjoying the foliage

Kinetic Sculptures

Posted on: Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I promise that I will get around to posting something substantial on this thing, but for now I think I have to stick with whimsy. I recently discovered Theo Jansen, a kinetic sculptor. This is what his Wikipedia page says about him:

Jansen is dedicated to creating artificial life through the use of genetic algorithms, which simulate evolution inside their code. Genetic algorithms can be modified to solve a variety of problems including circuit design, and in the case of Jansen’s creations, complex systems. Some measure of “fitness” is introduced into the algorithm; in Theo’s case it is to survive on the beach while moving around within two enclosing lines on the wet sand near the ocean and the dry sand at the edge of the beach. Those designs best at the assigned task within the modeled beach environment are bred together and graded again. Over time complex designs emerge which sprout wings and flap in the breeze pressurizing what look like plastic two liter soda bottles. Articulated legs sprout and scuttle across the sand like those of a crab. Jansen uses plastic electrical conduit to make some of the computer’s most promising designs; and he then lets them roam free on the beach, measures their success, and updates his model.

After reading that, I didn’t really get it. You really have to watch this, a commercial Jansen made in collaboration with BMW:

Isn’t that maybe the most beautiful, creepy, amazing thing you have ever seen? There is another here, which Jansen calls The Animaris Rhinoceros.  It’s exactly the kind of aesthetic that I really like but don’t really know exactly how to describe. Imagine a herd of Rhinoceri creeping slowly across a plain, huge and silent. I recommend turning the sound off on youtube and listening to something Radiohead-equivalent when you watch it.

I hope, having seen this, you all have amazing fantastical dreams. Goodnight!

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2 Responses to "Kinetic Sculptures"

Oh man…that is just soooooooooooo cool, Pratima! ❤

I hope this marks the start of an amazing day, but I don’t know how thrilling Aristotelian metaphysics can be.

If Jansen is in the market for a younger wife, I’m right here…!

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