Theo Jansen

by Thomas Cummins

in art, design, technology, video

My previous post of Ned Kahn’s kinetic art just reminded me of this South African BMW commercial I saw last year. Dutch artist Theo Jansen created these amazing Strandbeests and was also a lecturer for TED. Kind of unrelated but there is an interesting sidenote posted in the comments of this youtube video –

“Why did BMW hire a Dutch artist to be in their SOUTH AFRICAN commercial? Very simple… They were seeking to attract the attention of affluent South African “Boers” (white people of Dutch descent) by associating BMW’s image with that of a Dutch artist or, in´╗┐ reality, any other Dutch symbol that’s able to suggest a great deal of class and credibility. The subliminal message is “hey South Africans, real Dutch people trust BMW”…”

While completely valid and insightful it’s a shame that this apolitical work has been drawn into the political arena but I’m guessing Jansen got payed handsomely and attained tons of publicity out of this. I’m personally hoping to see a lot more of his work in the future. I am just brought back to the age-old question “What exactly is art?” Are Rube Goldberg, Pee-Wee, or Peter Fischli & David Weiss all artists in this respect?

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