Saturday, 19 June 2021 – Sunday, 17 October 2021
This summer, Serpentine and Acute Art present artist Tomás Saraceno’s Webs of Life on the grounds of Serpentine South Gallery and online globally.
Saraceno encourages us to move away from a fear of spiders (arachnophobia) and towards a love of spiders (arachnophilia, also the title of Saraceno’s long-running research project), via a collection of Augmented Reality (AR) spiders. A small version of one of the spiders can be viewed through your phone wherever you are in the world, in exchange for a photograph of a spider or web. Two monumental spiders can be viewed via a geolocated version of the project on site at Serpentine.
Through this work, Saraceno asks us to reconsider our relationship to spiders – how can we save their habitats by learning to live with them? 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 that spiders rely on: inside buildings; behind doors; on windows; under leaves. The submitted images become a part of the Arachnomancy App, built by Saraceno to connect observations of spider/webs around the world.
Two giant AR spiders will be positioned outside Serpentine South from 19 June: Maratus speciosus, also called the peacock spider because of its coloured markings, and Bagheera kiplingi*, the world’s only vegetarian spider. The presence of these arachnids aims to raise awareness and funds for the protection of biodiversity in the age of global warming.
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.
Webs of Life at Serpentine is part of Back to Earth, Serpentine’s long-term project dedicated to the environment and climate change.
*The name of this spider species, inspired by Rudyard Kilpling, carries with it the Victorian imperialism Kipling supported. Together with members of the Arachnophilia community, Tomás Saraceno is working to rename this and other spider species whose denominations reference controversial figures in our fraught collective history. Find out more on this shared effort on Arachnophilia.net.
To view Bagheera kiplingi* from anywhere in the world:
- Locate a spider or a web in your home or garden, on the street, in a park – be careful not to disturb it!
- Download the Acute Art App, or find it on the App Store or Google Play
- Select Saraceno@Serpentine
- Choose Bagheera kiplingi*
- Take a picture of the Spider/Web you’ve found
- Receive and place Tomás Saraceno’s AR artwork Bagheera kiplingi*
- See yours and other Spider/Web images on the Arachnomancy App
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 please visit the gallery.
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 held residencies at Centre National d’Études Spatiales (2014–2015), MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (2012–ongoing) and Atelier Calder (2010), among others. He has lectured in institutions worldwide, and directed the Institute of Architecture‐related Art (IAK) at Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany (2014–2016). Recent notable exhibitions include Event Horizon at Cisternene, Copenhagen (2020); Aria, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (2020); La Biennale di Venezia as part of May You Live In Interesting Times (2019); and ON AIR, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2018). A Thermodynamic Imaginary, at Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon (2018); How to Entangle the Universe in a Spider’s Web, Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires (2017); Stillness in Motion – Cloud Cities, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2016); and Aerocene, at Solutions COP21, Grand Palais, Paris (2015). His work is housed in international collections including the Bauhaus Museum, Weimar; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; SFMOMA, San Francisco; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Nationalgalerie, and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin; K21 Ständehaus, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Public permanent installations include Cosmic Filament, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; Sundial for Spatial Echoes, Bauhaus-Museum Weimar, Germany; Stillness in Motion – 3 Airborne Self-Assemblies, Mapletree, Singapore; Cloud Cities – Nebulous Thresholds, Rollins College, Florida; On Cosmic Clouds, NYU Abu Dhabi Library; Cloud Cities: HAT-P-12, Taipei; In Orbit, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf; On clouds (Air-Port-City), Towada Arts Center, Towada; Flying Garden, EPO Munich.
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