A Boy's Dream
A portrait of Theo Jansen, who's trying to add a new species to nature with his remarkable 'beach animals'.
Theo carries out impressive tests every summer on the beach. His often huge constructions patrol the coastline, accompanied by the creaking sound of their PVC bones and joints. Like animals bared to the bone, these magical, mythical beings are powered by sails, capturing the wind or air pressure from plastic bottles. The fact that Theo struggles to let go of his creations, "to say goodbye is to die a little", is testament to his commitment to his work, and the life they are imbued with.
Theo travels to Japan and the United States to share his work. He tells a group of Japanese schoolchildren "to make something yourself from your environment, and maybe you can stay a child just like me." In America, Theo speaks to art enthusiasts about his creations as if they were autonomous. It may be Jansen's child-like innocence that fuels his belief in the independent existence of his plastic beasts. But It becomes apparent that Theo's drive to create the work is from a desire to reconcile himself with the inevitability of his own death. His dream is that his non-biodegradable 'strandbeests' will live on after him in a state of eternal and perpetual motion, and hopefully keep something of him within them.
Is this self-appointed God pursuing an impossible fairy tale? And will he be able to convince the world to dream along with him?
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