Fiona Gannon: Tomás Saraceno and his spider collaboration

Tomás Saraceno has collected spiders, who have constructed webs that he has then sonified. The spiders vibrate their webs, and play music. Musicians have been invited to respond to the spider’s music for a series of “Jam Sessions.” Jamming with spiders.

But is this really a collaboration? In what sense have the spiders collaborated with Saraceno? The spiders were brought to the space for exhibition and allowed to build webs in the space in preparation for the show. The webs are constructed by the spiders over time, and then the sonification of the webs is the creative input by Saraceno. The work is composed by the sum of these parts, but what stops the spiders from being fabricators, technicians or even slaves?

Communication is required for collaboration, to allow for a project to emerge between people, or beings, each party should have their voice represented. Where are the spiders’ voices here? They and their webs are on show, but they are on show in a place chosen by Saraceno, under his name. The logic of how the webs were sonified would also be interesting to learn more about, what is the logic behind how each sound is attributed to each string? Presumably Saraceno came up with the method of translation between structure and sound.

Maybe the question of the spiders’ voices will be partially resolved in how the spiders react to the sonification of their webs. How do spiders ‘hear?’  Will their movements shift in response to the music? Will they give a shit at all?

The project raises many interesting questions.

If anyone is in Singapore this winter…

October 23–December 20, 2015

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore
#01-09/10, Gillman Barracks
6 Lock Road
Singapore 108934
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 12–7pm,
Friday 12–9pm


Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2014



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