- Date: 20 July 2010
- Artform: Visual arts
- Area: South West
Theo Jansen's Ventosa Siamesis is a 10 metre-long, mechanical sculpture powered by the wind. The self-propelling beach animal, which has made recent appearances on Exmouth beach and in Exeter city centre, is one of a family 'strandbeests' and part of the Cultural Olympiad project Anti-Bodies.
Ventosa Siamesis, which is a twin structure of two creatures working together, had to be separated into six sections to be transported across the North Sea in two freight containers. Once reassembled the strandbeest walked along Exmouth beach, 25 to 27 June, and then visited Exeter city centre, 2 to 4 July.
Dutch artist Theo Jansen has taken inspiration from Darwinian evolution and used engineering principles to create the sophisticated animal-like abilities of his strandbeest sculptures. Complex articulated locomotion enables the strandbeests to walk, and sensory mechanisms allow them to respond to the environment. For example, if the wind is very strong, a strandbeest will dig its feet into the sand, and if a strandbeest goes too close to the sea, it can detect this and moves in the opposite direction.
The strandbeest is made from recycled plastic conduit for electric cables. It has no electronic elements and captures energy from the wind with wing-like sails which power its movement and store energy. The wind-driven sails compress air into reservoirs of recycled plastic bottles and this energy is released via piston mechanisms.
Arts Council England's South West Director Phil Gibby said: 'This amazing fusion of art and engineering is a project that has inspired lots of people already. This is one of those projects that makes such an impression that it stays in the minds of those who have experienced it for a long time to come.'
The strandbeest project is co-produced by Spacex with Newcastle arts agency amino and forms part of Anti-Bodies, a programme of contemporary art projects which explore different attitudes to the body - contrasting the artist's view with that of the Olympic athlete. Anti-Bodies is coordinated by Relational with support from Arts Council England and has been granted the Inspire mark as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
A range of people, from scientists at the Met Office to toddlers and teenagers, have taken part in Spacex's Two Materials project - inspired by Theo Jansen's techniques - to create their own structures using plastic tubes and string.