Theo Jansen

Visual Artist

Pop!Tech 2005: It's Alive!
36 minutes, 16.7mb, recorded 2005-10-20
Theo Jansen

The amazing robotic creations of Dutch artist Theo Jansen have attracted a good deal of comment. These wind-powered creatures are complex, skeletal structures made principally from PVC tubing that is normally used to insulate electrical cable. In this talk from the Pop!Tech 2005 conference Jansen describes how he designs the robots using a computer and then 'evolves' them in the wild.

Jansen's web site has short films of some of his constructions in action and the value of this talk will be greatly enhanced if you have seen the creatures first. There is also a good article, including some photographs and film, at Wired magazine.

This talk was from the It's Alive! session at Pop!Tech. The other speaker in this session was Norman Packard. The question and answer period for both talks is included in this program.

Dutch visual artist Theo Jansen studied science at the University of Delft. As an artist he spent the first seven years of his career painting, after which he decided to strike out on a new course by making a real flying saucer. It flew over Delft in 1980 to the great consternation of the local population and police. Since then he has been trying to create a new type of nature. To this end he doesn't use pollen or seeds but yellow plastic tubes. In his laboratory on a windy roadside on the outskirts of Delft he has continued his work on this pioneering branch of fauna, making skeletons which are able to walk on the wind. Eventually he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches to live their own lives..


This free podcast is from our Pop!Tech series.

For The Conversations Network:

  • Post-production audio engineer: Minh Truong
  • Website editor: George Hawthorne