NTU Centre for Contemporary Art - Singapore
23 / 10 / 2015 – 20 / 12 / 2015

Curated by: Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director and Anca Rujoiu

The NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore is presenting for the first time in Southeast Asia the pioneering and visionary work of Tomás Saraceno in the exhibition Arachnid Orchestra. Jam Sessions. This new production, which marks the second anniversary of NTU CCA Singapore, is an interactive sound and visual installation bringing Saraceno’s long-term research on spider webs into the realm of sound.

Arachnid Orchestra. Jam Sessions is a process-driven laboratory for experimentation that pushes the boundaries of interspecies communication, developed collaboratively with arachnologists, musicians and sound engineers based in Singapore and abroad.

Situated at the intersection between art, architecture and science, Saraceno’s artistic research is an invitation to conceive alternative ways of knowledge, experience and interaction with others. By employing the incredible structural properties of spider’s silk and the spider’s sophisticated mode of communication through vibrations, Saraceno amplifies these vibrations and web plucking—not perceivable to human ears—into acoustic rhythms.

Arachnid Orchestra 2

Such endeavour is predicated on hypotheses of play and creativity that ask for a more complex understanding of the animal world. Various musicians and sonic artists based in Singapore including Bani Haykal, Brian O’Reilly, and Joyce Beetuan Koh were invited to respond to the spiders’ vibrational communication in three live performances (jam sessions) throughout the duration of the exhibition, creating a collective and immersive interspecies musical composition.

Preparations for Arachnid Orchestra. Jam Sessions began a year ago with spider field trips across Singapore. Spider species such as the Singapore Psechrus, the Golden Orb Weaver, the Twig-Like Feather-Legged, and the St. Andrews Cross worked collaboratively and collectively in a special laboratory at NTU CCA Singapore to weave several spider webs exhibited as installations within the space. As an extension of the exhibition, a dedicated website (www.arachnidorchestra.org) will operate as a research platform and playful hypertext of musical tuning.

Saraceno’s multidisciplinary artistic practice takes inspiration from a variety of sources, including architecture, space exploration, science fiction, and geometries found in the biological sciences. In the range of these fields of knowledge, Saraceno has included arachnology as an alternative tool for the investigation of the cosmos and embarked on a long-term artistic research dedicated to spider webs. One of his most spectacular arachnid inspired installations, Galaxy Forming along Filaments, Like Droplets along the Strands of a Spider’s Web was exhibited at the Italian Pavilion for the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009.

Arachnid Orchestra 4

Arachnid Orchestra 5

Saraceno further expanded on this work, in collaboration with world leading arachnologists and researchers from MIT, among others, by being the first to scan, analyse, and reconstruct a three-dimensional spider web subsequently presented at Bonniers Konsthall, Sweden in the following year. This project was embraced by scientists worldwide, prompting Saraceno to further pursue his research at the European Space Agency (ESA) with his proposal to send spiders into space, testing the conditions of micro-gravity and its impact upon spiders’ sociability, web building and the spider web itself.

Saraceno’s work defies traditional notions of space, time, gravity, consciousness and perception through architectural, social and communitarian means. Presented on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2012 among other numerous venues, one of his most celebrated series Cloud Cities speculated on aerial structures and proposed a future form of dwelling. In his work, there is no clear border between disciplines and fields of knowledge, rather the artist opens up a world of possibilities driven forward by a sense of wonder on how the world was created.