From afar, the sculptures resemble smoke trapped in floating jewel cases. Up close, they’re even more remarkable: webs woven into patterns so neat and geometric, they look what you’d get if Howard Roark mated with a tent-web spider.
The sculptures are by Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno who was, incidentally, trained as an architect. Spider webs are architectural marvels on their own, but in Saraceno’s hands, they become temples. To create the works, he allowed different types of spiders to spin webs within Plexiglas cases. Then, he turned the cases on their side every so often to change the direction of gravity and confuse the spiders. Often, he used several spider species to create one piece, layering their distinct webs to create alien forms. The cases were then suspended with invisible wire in a darkened gallery, such that they appear to float in mid-air.
Today, the web is the central metaphor for our networked world–a complex tangle that doesn’t resemble anything in nature and yet couldn’t have been designed by human hands alone. Saraceno’s sculptures are visceral reminders of what a beautiful thing that is.