How to Entangle the Universe in a Spider Web

Tomás Saraceno
April 7 – August 27, 2017

Quasi-social musical instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, 2017 (detail)

Spidersilk, carbon fibre

 

Made by around 7,000 spiders, the work covers an area of more than 190 square meters. The spiders worked together for around two-and-half months spinning their webs in the museum’s gallery to make the immersive installation.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Quasi-social musical instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, 2017 (detail)

Spidersilk, carbon fibre

 

Made by around 7,000 spiders, the work covers an area of more than 190 square meters. The spiders worked together for around two-and-half months spinning their webs in the museum’s gallery to make the immersive installation.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Quasi-social musical instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, 2017 (detail)

 

Made by around 7,000 spiders, the work covers an area of more than 190 square meters. The spiders worked together for around two-and-half months spinning their webs in the museum’s gallery to make the immersive installation.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Quasi-social musical instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, 2017 (detail)

 

Made by around 7,000 spiders, the work covers an area of more than 190 square meters. The spiders worked together for around two-and-half months spinning their webs in the museum’s gallery to make the immersive installation.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Quasi-social musical instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, 2017 (detail)

Spidersilk, carbon fibre

 

Made by around 7,000 spiders, the work covers an area of more than 190 square meters. The spiders worked together for around two-and-half months spinning their webs in the museum’s gallery to make the immersive installation.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Quasi-social musical instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, 2017 (detail)

Spidersilk, carbon fibre

 

Made by around 7,000 spiders, the work covers an area of more than 190 square meters. The spiders worked together for around two-and-half months spinning their webs in the museum’s gallery to make the immersive installation.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Quasi-social musical instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, 2017 (detail)

Spidersilk, carbon fibre

 

Made by around 7,000 spiders, the work covers an area of more than 190 square meters. The spiders worked together for around two-and-half months spinning their webs in the museum’s gallery to make the immersive installation.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Quasi-social musical instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, 2017 (detail)

Spidersilk, carbon fibre

 

Made by around 7,000 spiders, the work covers an area of more than 190 square meters. The spiders worked together for around two-and-half months spinning their webs in the museum’s gallery to make the immersive installation.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Quasi-social musical instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, 2017 (detail)

Spidersilk, carbon fibre

 

Made by around 7,000 spiders, the work covers an area of more than 190 square meters. The spiders worked together for around two-and-half months spinning their webs in the museum’s gallery to make the immersive installation.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

The Cosmic Dust Spider Web Orchestra, 2017 (detail)

Nephila senegalensis silk, carbon frame, light beam, meteoritic dust, stellar wind, sonic waves, 24 loudspeakers, one set of passive bass speakers, 3D camera system, video camera, video projector, dark matter detector software

 

In a darkened room a spider sits in her web, woven inside a suspended steel frame, and awaits her prey. Her actions are picked up by directional microphones and translated into low frequency sounds emitted by two small loudspeakers positioned nearby. The vibrations created by these sounds in turn create small vibrations, which stir up dust particles naturally present in the air.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

The Cosmic Dust Spider Web Orchestra, 2017 (detail)

Nephila senegalensis silk, carbon frame, light beam, meteoritic dust, stellar wind, sonic waves, 24 loudspeakers, one set of passive bass speakers, 3D camera system, video camera, video projector, dark matter detector software

 

In a darkened room a spider sits in her web, woven inside a suspended steel frame, and awaits her prey. Her actions are picked up by directional microphones and translated into low frequency sounds emitted by two small loudspeakers positioned nearby. The vibrations created by these sounds in turn create small vibrations, which stir up dust particles naturally present in the air.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

The Cosmic Dust Spider Web Orchestra, 2017 (detail)

Nephila senegalensis silk, carbon frame, light beam, meteoritic dust, stellar wind, sonic waves, 24 loudspeakers, one set of passive bass speakers, 3D camera system, video camera, video projector, dark matter detector software

 

In a darkened room a spider sits in her web, woven inside a suspended steel frame, and awaits her prey. Her actions are picked up by directional microphones and translated into low frequency sounds emitted by two small loudspeakers positioned nearby. The vibrations created by these sounds in turn create small vibrations, which stir up dust particles naturally present in the air.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

The Cosmic Dust Spider Web Orchestra, 2017 (detail)

Nephila senegalensis silk, carbon frame, light beam, meteoritic dust, stellar wind, sonic waves, 24 loudspeakers, one set of passive bass speakers, 3D camera system, video camera, video projector, dark matter detector software

 

In a darkened room a spider sits in her web, woven inside a suspended steel frame, and awaits her prey. Her actions are picked up by directional microphones and translated into low frequency sounds emitted by two small loudspeakers positioned nearby. The vibrations created by these sounds in turn create small vibrations, which stir up dust particles naturally present in the air.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

The Cosmic Dust Spider Web Orchestra, 2017 (detail)

Nephila senegalensis silk, carbon frame, light beam, meteoritic dust, stellar wind, sonic waves, 24 loudspeakers, one set of passive bass speakers, 3D camera system, video camera, video projector, dark matter detector software

 

In a darkened room a spider sits in her web, woven inside a suspended steel frame, and awaits her prey. Her actions are picked up by directional microphones and translated into low frequency sounds emitted by two small loudspeakers positioned nearby. The vibrations created by these sounds in turn create small vibrations, which stir up dust particles naturally present in the air.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

The Cosmic Dust Spider Web Orchestra, 2017 (detail)

Nephila senegalensis silk, carbon frame, light beam, meteoritic dust, stellar wind, sonic waves, 24 loudspeakers, one set of passive bass speakers, 3D camera system, video camera, video projector, dark matter detector software

 

In a darkened room a spider sits in her web, woven inside a suspended steel frame, and awaits her prey. Her actions are picked up by directional microphones and translated into low frequency sounds emitted by two small loudspeakers positioned nearby. The vibrations created by these sounds in turn create small vibrations, which stir up dust particles naturally present in the air.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

How to Entangle the Universe in a Spider Web

Tomás Saraceno
Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires
April 7 – August 27, 2017
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“Silky airborne scores… constellations of musical notes made of cosmic dust, traces of movement in the air, trajectories of falling stars… a sonic journey… through multiverses… a 4 billions years old tour… cosmic resonance,” Tomás Saraceno.

 

The first solo exhibition of Argentinian-born artist Tomás Saraceno (b. 1973, in San Miguel, lives and works in Berlin) opened April 6, 2017 at Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, curated by Victoria Noorthoorn. Connected by flows of airborne cosmic dust, two large immersive installations are presented as the result of one decade of artistic research. The exhibition is the largest project to date that Tomás Saraceno has presented at a museum in Argentina.

 

Bridging the artist’s interest in arachnology and astrophysics with sound and visual arts, the project introduces museum visitors to a collective “cosmic concert” across two exhibition spaces. As visitors enter each installation, only faint details are initially appear. Suspended filaments of webs and swirling formations of dust foreground a floating journey through the ‘cosmic web,’ where a myriad of otherwise covert connections are made tangible.

 

In the installation Multiverse Tour visitors find themselves as part of a musical ensemble. A light beam makes cosmic dust visible in a dimly-lit room, caught floating in the air above a set of loudspeakers. Visitors can watch the enlarged projected particles dance on a screen in the dark space, as they jive to the rhythm of a living spider plucking its web. Reminiscent of cloud cities, formations such as the ones the artist has envisioned as speculative futures for over a decade, the particles enact a displacement of space and time: “A stripe of the Milky Way glowing… every beginning is a cloud of dust... dark matter and other stuff, in cosmocoustic resonance,” notes Tomás Saraceno. As people wander through the gallery, their own actions become audible through the movement of the dust, floating as this planet in a cosmic plane. This activity is captured three dimensionally on video and amplified by a set a 32 loudspeakers spread across the gallery space. Each particle resonates to a different tone, and each tone is multiplied into waves. This low-frequency collective composition vibrates in the living spider’s web. The interplay between the sounds produced from the vibrations of the web, the cosmic dust floating in the air and the movement of the visitors, creates a sonic landscape—a jam session of human and non-human agents.

 

As if waiting for the fall of a shooting star, visitors partake in a feedback loop between light and sound that reveals the hidden sonorousness of the cosmos. Anywhere between 5-300 tonnes of cosmic dust falls through the atmosphere to Earth every day. Sometimes as old as the known Universe, these particles are both past and present, cosmic and earthly. As the dust swirls, coming together and moving apart, each particle, so unique and symbolic, floats as an artwork in itself. Sonic filaments vibrate as an interplanetary and interspecific composition, resonating with the formation of nebulous, unidentifiable cosmic bodies, forming chaotically millions of light-years away. Dust particles sonify the gallery space, deposit on strands of collective webs and invite visitors to trace their paths in the air. Navigating through interlacing glittering web fibres, harbours of silky nebulae and hybrid clusters of galaxies appear in the installation Quasi-Social Musical Instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, as extended inaudible ripples of a micro- and macrocosmos of cooperation. The interconnecting filaments of thousands of quasi-social spiders from the Argentinian Parawixia bistriata species form tangibly around the visitor. Drawings in the air, made by an estimated 40 million individual threads, reveal the trajectory of dust grains. Whilst laying under this multiverse, visitors are invited to attune themselves to the rhythms of the cosmos, and the slow cadence of the arachnids. These spiders have bridged a remarkable texture that challenges visitors’ perceptions of the very nature of ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ in the cosmos.

 

As if performing one of Júlio Cortázar’s instructions, the artist quotes William Eberhard, “To start, you must first blindfold yourself: the spider’s eyesight is very poor, her eyes are on the wrong side of her body to see the web’s lines as she hangs below them, and in any case she often works at night. (...) The air is highly viscous at the scale of the spider; for a human, an analogous situation would be building a web of elastic ropes under water. You must instead depend on the vagaries of the wind; you will have to launch new lines, allowing their tips to float away on irregular air currents.”

 

Over a period of six months, the museum has hosted the species, Parawixia bistriata, witnessing the process the spiders undergo while inhabiting a space. Museum staff adapted and learnt from their temporality—from their threading, to their grouping and expanding—the spiders wove exceptional long silk sails, bridging from, and anchoring onto the architecture of the gallery. Spiders are known to patiently await a breath of air to propel them across the empty skies. Ballooning, a method by which spiders use the air as a means of dispersal, has long inspired the artist who is fascinated by the collective entanglement of thousands of single threads, which propels the spiders upwards. Silhouetted in the exhibition space, the communal structure confronts visitors with phenomena beyond the human scale—the 140 million year old presence of spiders on Earth. Immersed in an infinitely complex and interconnected web, visitors partake in the social construction of arachnids, the artist, curators, scientists and thinkers from diverse disciplines who jammed to create this project.

 

Alluding to spider silk, the cosmic dust draws trails in the air, which are set before the dark infinitude of the known cosmos, perhaps one of infinitely many. This recalls the artist’s vision of 'Cloud Cities'—a floating urban vision, a new way of moving and dwelling in and beyond the Earth. Saraceno’s open-source project Aerocene manifests as a series of air-fuelled sculptures that will decarbonize society’s fossil-fuel dependency by petitioning aerosolar journeys around the planet. The Aerocene sculptures harness the thermodynamic energies of the Sun and the Earth, floating freely by way of jet streams in the upper stratosphere. Just as with the Aerocene, the exhibition Arachnid Orchestra & Cosmic Dust: The Multiverse Tour makes air tangible. As the philosopher Michael Marder eloquently notes, “made of dust, a community has no determinate national, cultural, or even species character.” The exhibition invites visitors to roam in a vast sonic expanse, and encourages them to imagine how to move differently, as spiders do by bridging against a skyscape of clouds.

 

Tomás Saraceno’s installation is born from long-term research into spider webs, and constitutes a collaborative endeavour between the Modern Art Museum of Buenos Aires, and the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences Bernardino Rivadavia (MACN). The exhibition expresses the artist’s idea of the Universe as an expanded realm of interconnectedness. He reconsiders more-than-human kinship as streams in atmospheric wind patterns, and trails in the ‘cosmic web,’ an analogy commonly used by astrophysicists to describe the early formation of the Universe. Forms appear multifariously, as a sequence of traces, trails, and constellations, revealing the microscopic, the global and the cosmic.

 

During the past decade, the artist and his studio pioneered the study of spider webs by inventing groundbreaking methods, which continuously expand the horizons of scientific research. For instance, by developing a laser scanning system that can digitally reconstruct complex three-dimensional webs. Various research institutions, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Max Planck Institute Department of Collective Behaviour, have worked with the artist and his studio to further research and development, which institutes a contribution as much to the sciences as to the arts and establishes a novel crossover between them. The artist’s studio hosts the largest three-dimensional web collection in the world, for which the artist is sought by and regularly collaborates with universities and institutes in the preservation, digitization and study of web properties.

 

For the opening of Tomás Saraceno’s Arachnid Orchestra & Cosmic Dust: The Multiverse Tour, the artist and Moderno invite the semi-social spider Cyrtophora citricola, a close collaborator in Tomás Saraceno’s practice, to jam in the social structure of the Parawixia bistriata in a unique musical performance. Visitors are invited to see the arachnids weave live and enmesh their silk in the largest ever exhibited social web.

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