Mechanical menagerie

Thirteen wind-powered artificial animals are on display in Wind Walkers: Theo Jansen's Strandbeests at the ArtScience Museum until Sept 30. Here are some of the highlights

1. Animaris Sabulosa (1993-1994) (above)

This 8m-long Strandbeest was the first "animal" Jansen created that could walk sideways against the direction of the wind. The artist used a heat gun to shape the tubes, hence he calls this his Calidum ("hot") period. Unfortunately, the heat degraded the plastic so the Strandbeest could not support its own weight.

Jansen says: "It didn't work the way it was supposed to work, but I was learning all the time. The process is very important."

2. Animaris Rigide Properans (1994-1997) (above)

  • BOOK IT / WIND WALKERS: THEO JANSEN’S STRANDBEESTS

  • WHERE: ArtScience Museum, 6 Bayfront Avenue

  • WHEN: Until Sept 30, 10am to 7pm daily, last admission at 6pm

  • ADMISSION: Singapore residents: $16 for adults, $12 for those aged 65 or older or aged two to 12 (Singapore residents); foreigners : $19 for adults, $14 for those aged 65 or older or aged two to 12; discounts for seniors and students

  • INFO: Selected Strandbeests are reanimated daily, go to www.marinabaysands.com/museum/ theo-jansen.html for more details

The next step was to cool off on the heat used to shape the Strandbeests - hence Jansen's Tepideem ("less hot") period. He attached a propeller to the back of the 2.5m-long Rigide Properans so it could walk sideways against the wind at considerable speed.

It was the first of Jansen's animals to succeed at this.

3. Animaris Siamesis (2009-2011) (below)

Named after the Latin root for "twins", this mechanical animal has two bodies, one anchored to the other for stability. It is the largest Strandbeest, with 72 legs and weighing more than 200kg.

Again, it was too heavy to survive on the beach.

4. Animaris Umerus Segundus (2009-2011) (below)

 

In the 12m-long Umerus Segundus, plastic bottles, fuelled by the Strandbeest's wings, store compressed air. It can walk back and forth on the floors of the ArtScience Museum, but lasted only 26 seconds on the beach, collapsing under its own weight.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2018, with the headline 'Mechanical menagerie'. Print Edition | Subscribe