Spider webs have been something we avoid in disgust and even destroy, but one visit to The Shed's new exhibit "Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s)" and your perspective will change completely.
From February 11 to April 17, visitors to the shed will have the incredible opportunity to scale a human-sized web set inside a 95-foot-diameter bubble, set across two levels of wire netting with the second level at 40 feet in the air in the installation, "Free the Air: How to hear the universe in a spider/web". Like a spider, you can walk and lay on the web and once the room goes dark, atmospheric music plays around you, vibrating and rumbling the web and your body. A live singer adds to the soundscape, but so does your every move or tap—sounds echo around the room, seemingly bouncing off the walls. According to the exhibit, the music is performed by "arachnid players, spider diviners, and atmospheric and cosmic matters, captured via recording devices in collaboration with the Arachnophilia community and amplified in the installation."
Preparing to go into the experience is not unlike getting ready to go on a roller coaster—you must lock up your bags and items that could fall through the netting and those with heels are asked not to go on the second-level web. And while you question whether you've made the right decision to go on the second level, you're whisked up several flights of stairs and placed in an airlock. Shakily, you make your way out across the web and find that it's like walking on a trampoline with holes in it. Below, you see the less brave souls move across the web.
The rest of the survey, which is the biggest of Saraceno's work in the U.S. to date and spans The Shed’s Level 2 and Level 4 Galleries, contains floating sculptures that move with changes in the air, gorgeously lit up spider webs (sans spiders, thank you very much) and works that show the interconnectedness of all lifeforms, including spiders and humans. Throughout his work, Saraceno aims for climate justice informed by human and nonhuman lifeform perspectives, which have been disregarded (such as the air, spiders and their webs, and communities impacted by inequitable environmental policies and practices).
"Close your eyes, cover your ears, and sense felt vibrations…Gravitational waves resounding the cosmic web, yet to be felt. Infinite sensing of the world, life-forms weave constellations."
"Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s)" is open at The Shed from February 11 to April 17, 2022.