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Theodorus Gerardus Jozef "Theo" Jansen (b. 14 March 1948); Dutch artist. In 1990, he began building large mechanisms out of PVC that are able to move on their own and, collectively, are entitled, Strandbeest. The kinetic sculptures appear to walk. His animated works are intended to be a fusion of art and engineering. He says "The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds." He strives to equip his creations with their own artificial intelligence so they avoid obstacles such as the sea, by changing course when detected.
Born in Scheveningen in the Netherlands. He grew up with a talent for both physics and art, and studied physics at the University of Delft. Jansen left the university in 1974 without a degree. While at Delft, Jansen was involved in many projects that involved both art and technology, including a paint machine and a flying-saucer machine.
In 1979 Jansen started using cheap PVC pipes to build a 4-meter-wide flying saucer that was filled with helium. It was launched over Delft in 1980 on a day when the sky was hazy. Light and sound came from the saucer. Because the saucer was black against a light sky, its size was difficult to determine. The police even stated that it was 30-meters-wide and some people swore they saw a halo around it. Jansen has claimed that this project "caused a near-riot". He said that afterward, the machine was never found and that it probably landed somewhere in Belgium. He later repeated the project over Paris.
Jansen developed a painting machine 1984–86 in Delft, a somewhat larger project than his flying saucer. It consisted of a tube with a light cell situated at its end. When darkness was detected, the machine would begin to spray paint, creating painted silhouettes of people standing in front of it.
...An episode of The Simpsons, "The Nightmare After Krustmas", featured the Strandbeests and Jansen. He provided the voice for his cartoon character.