Serpentine South Gallery Online 19 Jun — 17 Oct 2021 Free

Serpentine and Acute Art present Webs of Life, a project by artist Tomás Saraceno with Arachnophilia.

This summer, Tomás Saraceno encourages us to move away from a fear of spiders (arachnophobia) and towards a love of spiders (arachnophilia, the title of the artist’s long-running research project). Via Augmented Reality (AR), versions of two spiders, the Maratus speciosus, also called the peacock spider because of its coloured markings, and Bagheera kiplingi*, the world’s only vegetarian spider, Saraceno aims to raise awareness and funds for the protection of biodiversity in the age of global warming.

A small version of the Maratus speciosus can be viewed through your phone wherever you are in the world, in exchange for a photograph of a spider or web, while two giant AR spiders will also be positioned outside Serpentine South from 19 June.

By asking participants to look for spiders and webs in order to be able to access the small AR spider Bagheera kiplingi,* Saraceno draws attention to the locations and habitats on which spiders rely in our daily lives: inside buildings, behind doors, on windows, under leaves. He asks us to reconsider our relationship to spiders – how can we protect them, and save their habitats? The submitted images become a part of the Arachnomancy App, built by Saraceno, that connects observations of spiders and webs around the world.

Webs of Life invites a deeper consideration of our non-human neighbours, and encourages everyone to play a role in environmental justice. It is an experiment informed by the idea of technodiversity discussed by writer and philosopher Yuk Hui, in which a relatively new technology is used in the service of biodiversity, moving us towards a truly Augmented Reality.

* This spider species was given a name inspired by Rudyard Kipling, and for many people this represents the Victorian imperialism Kipling supported. Together with members of the Arachnophilia community, Tomás Saraceno is attempting to rename this and other spider species whose names continue to carry controversial, post-colonial references. Find out more on renaming this spider on Arachnophilia.net

To view Bagheera kiplingi*where you are:

  1. Locate a spider or a web in your home or garden, on the street, in a park – be careful not to disturb it.
  2. Download the Acute Art App, or find it on the App Store or Google Play
  3. Select [email protected]
  4. Choose Bagheera kiplingi*
  5. Take a picture of the spider or web you’ve found.
  6. Receive and place Saraceno’s AR artwork Bagheera kiplingi*.
  7. See your spider orweb image and those of others on the Arachnomancy App.
  8. To find out more about Bagheera kiplingi* and Saraceno’s campaign to change its name, please visit Arachnophilia.net

To view Maratus speciosus and Bagheera kiplingi* onsite at Serpentine, visit us!

About Arachnophilia

Arachnophilia is an interdisciplinary, research-driven initiative by Tomás Saraceno that emerged from more than ten years of collaboration with humans, spiders and their webs. Through this community, Arachnophilia creates links across multiple artistic, scientific and theoretical disciplines, including vibrational communication, biomateriomics, architecture and engineering, animal ethology, nonhuman philosophy, anthropology, biodiversity/conservation, sound studies and music. Since 2019, Arachnophilia has proposed new pathways for cultivating affective relations between spiders and humans – some technological, and some speculative – harnessing digital tools to cultivate multispecies kinship in the technosphere and the biosphere.

Learn more at Arachonophilia.net
Let your future be read by a spider or web with the Arachnomancy App

About Tomás Saraceno

Tomás Saraceno (b.1973, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina) lives and works in and beyond planet Earth. His floating sculptures, artworks and interactive installations challenge ways of inhabiting and sensing the environment. Calling for environmental justices that enable interspecies cohabitation, Saraceno’s artistic collaborations seek relationships with the terrestrial, atmospheric, and cosmic realms – particularly through his community projects Aerocene and Arachnophilia.

In the past two decades, Saraceno has collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Max Planck Institute, the Nanyang Technological University, the Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum London. He has lectured in institutions worldwide, and directed the Institute of Architecture‐related Art (IAK) at Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany (2014–16), and held residencies at Centre National d’Études Spatiales (2014–15), MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (2012–ongoing) and Atelier Calder (2010), among others.

Credits

Webs of Life, a project by Tomás Saraceno with Arachnophilia, is part of Back to Earth at Serpentine.

Support for this project comes from Serpentine and Acute Art.

Proceeds from these AR artworks go to the Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN), a non-profit organisation that connects with communities in northern Argentina working to maintain biodiversity in the region.

Special thanks to the Arachnophilia community, especially Arachnophilics Ally Bisshop, spider divination practitioners, Roland Muehlethaler, Maratus speciosus, as well as key scientific and research institutions, including Peter Jaeger of Senckenberg Research Institute, Markus J Buehler, Evan Ziporyn, and Leila Kinney of MIT, Alex Jordan of Max Planck Institute, Jonas Wolff of Macquarie University, Andreas Wessell and Hannelore Hoch of Museum für Naturkunde and many more. To Studio Tomás Saraceno, especially Lars Behrendt, Sarah Kisner, Manuela Mazure, Claudia Meléndez, Jillian Meyer and Lucía Cash. And to project supporters Rebecca Lewin, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Daniel Birnbaum, Jacob De Geer, Rodrigo Marques, Irene Due and Isabela Herig.

About Arachnophilia

Arachnophilia is an interdisciplinary, research-driven initiative by Tomás Saraceno that emerged from more than ten years of collaboration with humans, spiders and their webs. Through this community, Arachnophilia creates links across multiple artistic, scientific and theoretical disciplines, including vibrational communication, biomateriomics, architecture and engineering, animal ethology, nonhuman philosophy, anthropology, biodiversity/conservation, sound studies and music. Since 2019, Arachnophilia has proposed new pathways for cultivating affective relations between spiders and humans – some technological, and some speculative – harnessing digital tools to cultivate multispecies kinship in the technosphere and the biosphere.

Learn more at Arachonophilia.net
Let your future be read by a Spider/Web with the Arachnomancy App

About Tomás Saraceno

Tomás Saraceno (b.1973, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina) lives and works in and beyond planet Earth. His floating sculptures, artworks and interactive installations challenge ways of inhabiting and sensing the environment. Calling for environmental justices that enable interspecies cohabitation, Saraceno’s artistic collaborations seek relationships with the terrestrial, atmospheric, and cosmic realms -particularly through his community projects Aerocene and Arachnophilia.

In the past two decades, Saraceno has collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Max Planck Institute, the Nanyang Technological University, the Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum London. He has lectured in institutions worldwide, and directed the Institute of Architecture‐related Art (IAK) at Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany (2014–2016); and held residencies at Centre National d’Études Spatiales (2014–2015), MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (2012–ongoing) and Atelier Calder (2010), among others.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SARACENO'S RESEARCH

Symbiotic Skins, Metabolic Schema

Go here to read an essay about our interspecies relationships and interdependencies, written by Arachnophilia researcher Ally Bisshop in and through a conversation with Tomás Saraceno.

Arachnomancy biotremology reader

The spider’s world is one of vibration. Essentially blind, the web-building spider creates an image of the world through the vibrations it sends and receives through the web, which also functions as an organic and specialised instrument for transmitting these seismic signals. The spider/web is thus considered a material extension of the spider’s own senses and, some argue, of its mind. The study of the seismic signals produced and received by the spider fall under the relatively new scientific discipline of biotremology: the study of vibrational communication in animals. Read more about the vibratory world of spiders in A Foray into Worlds of Vibration, an Arachnophilia Reader.

Web of Life: for a real augmented reality

Watch Tomás Saraceno and Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist discuss the poetry and architecture of spiders and their webs on the occasion of Acute Art exhibition Unreal City in 2020.

Archive

Discover 50 years of the Serpentine

From the architecture pavilion and digital commissions to the ideas marathon and the General Ecology programme, explore 50 years of artists, projects and exhibitions.

View archive