Cultural Center exhibit explains engineering through art

David Villegas

Contributing Reporter

Cultural Center exhibit explains engineering through art-2

Theo Jansen’s “Dream Machines” is an ongoing exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center that shows visitors how early engineers were able to create most of what we now have in today’s world.

Jansen’s works of art are large mechanisms that are made of PVC pipes and are able to move on their own, unlike sculptures of art that are set in a single location. Consisting of assemblages of piping, wood and wing-like sails, these “beach animals” are able to survive elements such as storms and air, all on their own. They also have legs to walk and are able to store air pressure in the absence of wind, which helps them walk through their “wings.”

“The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds,” Jansen said in an appearance on a BMW car commercial, referring to the notion that art can be manifested in many ways other than traditional art.

This was not Jansen’s first venture into mechanical art. He has done two other projects before “Dream Machines” which were entitled “The UFO” and “The Painting Machine,” both of which used PVC as well as operating on their own.

“Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen” is ongoing right now at the Chicago Cultural Center through May 1. It is open seven days a week, and admission is free to everyone.

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