The Strandbeest are kinetic sculptures that operate on wind and are able to move about as if they were living animals. They are created by Dutch artist Theo Jansen, who has a passion for combining art and engineering.
The name "strandbeest" means beach animal in Dutch. These creatures are designed to walk on sandy surfaces. Theo has been working on various forms of strandbeest since 1990, and many of his creations walk around beaches freely as if they possessed a primitive form of artificial life.
The examples shown here in Federation Square in Melbourne are earlier forms of strandbeest, and unfortunately aren't able to demonstrate their usual self-autonomy here since the wind is not sufficient to power them, and their legs are not suitable to walk on hard ground. The larger beest here is named Animaris Umerus and measures 12m x 4m x 2m. The smaller one is Animaris Ordis Mutantis, measuring 4m x 2m x 2m, and is available for the public to play with.
I think quote from Theo Jansen's website explains the concept well:
Since 1990, Theo Jansen has been occupied with the making of a new nature. Not pollen or seeds but plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic material of this new nature. He makes skeletons which are able to walk on the wind. Eventually he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.
More photos added in new post: Return of the Strandbeest
Some further links for those interested: