strandbeest at the exploratorium with @donttrythis

Strandbeest - n. Walking sculpture of the type invented by Theo Jansen.

I’ve been fascinated by these since I saw the first video of them, way back in 2007 or 2008. I think it was a Kottke link. But, only at a distance, in the way that you laugh at people that take the cinnamon challenge, not like it’s something you would ever see or do firsthand. Well, I finally got to see them firsthand, and I didn’t have to go to the beach.

The show was at the Exploratorium, which is the platonic ideal of a hands-on science museum. They create direct experiences that lead to an intuitive understanding of science. Do the experiment, know how it works. The strandbeest exhibit was no exception, with several hands-on beests to walk back and fourth, and models of the leg to play with and see how it works (stiff sections made of triangles, and moving sections made of odd quadrilaterals).

I went twice, once to see Savage’s work-in-progress beest, and at night, for the unveiling and adults-only evening. There were several other people showing off similar devices; a couple motorized horse-like builds, and a giant Burning Man build out of plate steel. I even got to ride the strandbeest bike, which was jerky and steered like a cow and I desperately want to buy a welder and build one now. It was delightful and weird those are maybe my two favorite qualities.

The highlight of the evening was the unveiling of Savage’s machine. “Like everything I do, it didn’t work until the last minute,” he said. Or something like that; I’m sure the whole thing will be up on eventually. First, he rode it on the milk crate seat, then, realizing it would hold his weight, he jumped on top and pedaled it from there. There was a nice Q&A period, and then everyone dispersed into the night.

Sidenote: every time I think the color balance is too hard, I should just put it away and look again after getting some sleep. It’s almost always exaustion, and not the color, that’s the problem.

Posted by Matt on 2016-07-11 08:58:18 -0700