This weekend, from the 15th to the 18th of October, the Kyoto International Art and Film Festival takes place, only the second edition of the festival which has been created to balance all the things that happen in Tokyo. If you are interested and in Kyoto, the schedule is here:

Like many of these things here where you already have to know about them to find them online, I have stumbled upon this festival by pure chance, yesterday, when I was in town. There is a wonderful exhibition on the square in front of City Hall, in fact this is a mixture of art and science: Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest. Theo Jansen is a Dutch artist cum scientist who builds large, autonomously moving mechanisms which he calls Strandbeesten, Beachbeasts. Those animals are propelled by the wind and he sets them free on Dutch beaches where they may wander around as long as the wind is blowing, and yes, it is blowing there very long, hard, and often… Strandbeest in KyotoI came across the strandbeesten about 4 years ago when I was on summer holiday in Japan and I watched TV at a friend’s place. The interesting thing is that the whole mechanism moves purely kinetic, the legs are constructed in a way that there is a single degree of freedom, and they are essentially only folding over to create the movement. Think of a simple folding rule with only two parts – if you hold it at one end and then gently swing it left and right, the lower part will move as well, but only in a very specific way. Anyway, I bought a small assembly kit online at that time and stunned the students in my class on folding with this odd thing that moves. I was very happy to see a real one for once, and they move quite as beautifully – although you need quite a bit of wind…

If you want more information, including a video with several of the strandbeesten, here is Theo Jansen’s homepage:
and here is his youtube channel:

And no, I’m not getting anything for this advertisement – I’m just a fangirl. And I think I’ll be off playing with mine for a while… 😉