Description The Beest is a wooden reproduction of sculptor Theo Jansen's mechanical "strandbeest". Jansen's original design was made of slender PVC, and could be found wandering, self-propelled, along the beaches of France. They made use of integrated windmills that pressurized pneumatic tanks, harnessing ceaseless coastal winds to drive the legs for miles. Jansen employed a "survival of the fittest" technique in his development of the final Strandbeest design, repeatedly pitting his divergent iterations against one another. Those that made it furthest down the beach without getting stuck, lost, or broken would 'survive' to have their genes incorporated in the next generation.
Although this wooden replica is far too heavy to be wind-propelled, it retains the quizzical movement of Jansen's original. Thanks to a supple coordination of 12 identical legs, the body of the machine moves smoothly forward as though the legs were simply complicated wheels. For every foot that lifts off the ground there's another that touches back down, and the flurry of trading steps produces a centipede's gait that's simultaneously enchanting and intimidating.
The scale and complexity of this machine often prompts the question, "what's it used for?" Unfortunately, if you have to ask, you'll never know.
Bios Michael S. Page is Reed College alum from Stowe, VT currently soliciting medical schools for an education. In addition to getting a degree in philosophy, Mike is musician, avid gold-panner, and adherent of the Bontrager school of self-discipline.
David Lansdowne is a Reed grad from Bend, OR presently doing iOS development for a local digital mapping company. In addition to programming, he does freelance writing, cross-disciplinary UX design, and occasionally builds for PDX Skate Ramps.