No creature on earth is better at pretending than we humans. The title of this book is a way of saying that our daily life is nothing other than a show played out in our minds. We have a talent for creating a fantasy world. Luckily for us. He who is unable to daydream becomes hopelessly depressed. Our talent for simulating is so strong that we are even able to pretend that we exist. We simulate a first-person form, an ’I’.
In The Great Pretender, kinetic artist Theo Jansen shows that the ’I’ we envision is a tool in our evolution. We need this tool to be selfish. There can be no selfishness without the I-fantasy. Since 1990 Theo Jansen has been engaged in creating new forms of life: beach animals. These are not made of protein like the existing life-forms but from another basic stuff, yellow plastic tubing. Skeletons made from these tubes are able to walk. They get their energy from the wind, so they don’t have to eat like regular animals. They evolved over many generations, becoming increasingly adept at surviving storms and water from the sea.
Theo Jansen’s ultimate wish is to release herds of these animals on the shore. In redoing the Creation, so to speak, he hopes to become wiser in his dealings with the existing nature by encountering problems the Real Creator had to face. The Great Pretender is a testimonial to his experiences as God. It’s not easy being God; there are plenty of disappointments along the way. But on the few occasions that things work out, being God is the most wonderful thing in the world.
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