Dear inhabitants of the world,
It has long been a tradition to present a concert to welcome the New Year. This year, we would like to thank you for inviting us to share in this celebration, for recognizing our rights to sing with you on New Year’s Eve -and not for labelling us “urban pests” as many others do.
Beginning the 31st of December 2020, we hope that you will take the time to spot our presence in the upper-left corner of a window, behind a radiator, between ceiling lights, under a wardrobe: this is our home as much as it is yours. We hope that by hearing and seeing us closely you will join this concert, and that at its end you would consider allowing our continuing but threatened, unlimited existence.
This concert will unite us all. While this pandemic continues to divide people around the globe, we sing to engender a shift, to change anthropocentric and capitolocentric behaviours. We hope that in this New Year you might rethink a way that we can all live together, and renew the good will of cohabitation.
This year, we invite you to come together, differently, through a concert like no other, with different chords, vibrations and strings plucked. How to hear the universe in a spider/web: A live concert by/for Invertebrate Rights is a guide to hear without the ears, to see without the eyes and to sense without prejudice how another year could become another reality.
Put on your headphones to hear binaural vibrations of spider/webs and the pulse of the cosmos
It is only by banding together to explore the new threads of connectivity woven so tightly into the fabric of our universe that we may communicate the urgency of our project.
A transdisciplinary research collaboration together with Studio Tomás Saraceno, the Arachnophilia community and with Stavros Katsanevas at the European Gravitational Observatory; Peggy S. M. Hill, researcher in biotremology from the University of Tulsa; and groundbreaking sonic astrophysicist Wanda Díaz-Merced, who after losing her sight at age 20 began hearing the stars.
And featuring the contribution of Nobel Prize-winning experimental physicist Barry Barish, whose work with LIGO brought about the first direct detection of gravitational waves. With vibrations from the universe and the Arachnophilia community, this concert is a performance for all beings. It is about breaking our cultivated phobias, and learning from our closest co-habitants to sense the entanglements of the cosmic/web.
The Spider Nebula at the Auriga constellation, traveling through PM2.5 dispersed around the universe, points to Lago Bullicante ExSnia: a natural reserve in one of Rome’s most densely populated neighborhoods. Founded by activists in the struggle against urban speculation, the lake is home to an abundance of plant species recreating natural habitats.
From the Gemini constellation, home to the first high energy gamma ray source, the third light moves towards Uranus, the ice giant named after the androgynous mythological god, emblem of disruption and dispossession of traditional societal structures; connecting with Casa Bombardata in the Quartiere San Lorenzo. Maintained by the Casa della Memoria e della Storia, Casa Bombardata preserves the heroic efforts of the Italian partigiani against the fascist regime.
We are so proud to have received a message from Nobel Laureate and experimental physicist Barry Barish!
For his work in detecting the first gravitational waves, a phenomenon predicted by Einstein over a century ago, Professor Barish of Caltech was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. In this video, Barish speaks on that initial discovery, and on the mellifluous sounds of the universe.
Explaining his role in the concert, How to hear the universe in a spider/web: A live concert for/by Invertebrate Rights, Professor Barish discusses the sounds he works with and are part of the concert, and further explains how new scientific technologies help us to understand the past and to sense new threads of connectivity into the future.
The cosmic and earthly web we must all build for one another comes from the same, profound planetary pulse, sonically figured in the concert, as Professor Barish says, like the chirp of a bird.
Our deepest thanks to Professor Barish for his message, and for his continued innovations in his field and beyond.
In this Zoom conversation, Tomás Saraceno, in collaboration with project contributors and event curators, explores recent discoveries in animal vibrational behavior, the scientific study of gravitational waves, and how humanity might look towards various world cultures and creatures, like spiders, to recover its interpretive capacity.
This recording, compiled from data collected before and during the global lockdown, maps the shift in seismic noise evinced by the pandemic-induced reduction in human activity. Though the effects of individual sources on seismic noise may be small, they produce a blanket of background noise often masking the signals of various geological phenomena, like smaller earthquakes.
Spiders carefully build their webs using different types of spider silk, allowing the spider to control the web’s architecture, tension and stiffness, all of which affect how signals travel through the web. As the spider builds and tunes its silken musical instrument, it also produces vibrations.
Spider silk can vibrate at a wide range of frequencies. When the spider ‘plucks’ the silk strands of the web it creates ripples in every direction, longitudinal vibrational waves that the spider can feel in each of its eight legs. By plucking the web, the spider can receive important information about the condition of the web, or the location of prey, for instance. Plucking can also be a courtship signal: a male spider gently plucking the threads of a female spider’s web as he approaches, to indicate his intent to mate.
Percussive signals are produced when a spider drums its body parts (usually its legs and pedipalps) against a substrate, such as a dry bed of leaves.Such drumming signals are usually used as a vibrational courtship communication between potential mates.
Since the 1950s humans have launched thousands of rockets and sent even more satellites into orbit. One result of this is space junk, or space debris. It can refer to big objects such as dead satellites, to smaller things, like bits of debris or paint flecks that have fallen off a rocket.
Mapped from the sound of a woodblock, you are listening to the hot gasses that emanate from the sun, travelling a million miles an hour through space – a phenomenon known as “solar wind”. Here, the intensity of the sun’s magnetic field is correlated and contrasted with particle data received from a wind satellite, indicating how the sun modulates the turbulence and motion of deflected particles.
Like star flares, solar flares are sudden increases in brightness from the sun accompanied by great bursts of energy. These intense fluctuations in solar irradiance were captured during the 2003 Halloween solar storm, in which the largest known solar flare was recorded. The data was sonified using pitch and rhythm mapping, and documents a flare as it reaches a constellation, a satellite, and ultimately the ground.
The haunting, enveloping sounds you are hearing are rooted in the origins of the universe. This sonification is a recording of Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), or “relic”, radiation. Emitted nearly 13.7 billion years ago, these electromagnetic waves date to the earliest stages of the universe and are the oldest on record. Their faint light fills all of space.
Gravitational waves, curvatures in space-time, are believed to occur when a single spinning massive object, like a neutron star, contains imperfections on its spherical shape. This star will generate gravitational waves as it spins. Waves can also occur when
Emanations from the Spiral Galaxy AGC7849, captured by the recently destroyed radio telescope ARECIBO. In this recording, sonified with the timbre of a human voice, an ambling, warbly signal translates galactic matter encountered by the radio telescope to sound. The output signal is rendered fuzzy and percussive, increasing in accordance with the intensity of the waveforms. Even minor changes in the sonification procedure produce vastly different results, a reminder of the variability of all recorded information.
Volunteers from CAMRAS and radio amateurs use the radio telescope for Earth-Moon-Earth radio connections. In this so-called moonbouncing, they receive radio signals reflected from the moon by the telescope and messages from radio amateurs all over the world and pass them on via the internet. They also manage to establish radio contacts via larger pieces of space debris and satellites. Even a small cube satellite that was no longer listening to the commands from its ground station has been brought back into line with the help of CAMRAS-ers.
Ally Bisshop, Marco Isaia (in collaboration with Elena Piano), Markus Buehler, Roland Mühlethaler
If you would like to learn more about the concert, about spiders and vibrations and Arachnophilia, we offer some select readings below. In addition, please be welcome to explore the tangled network of information on this website
How to hear the universe in a spider/web:
A live concert for/by Invertebrate Rights
by Tomás Saraceno
Promoted by Roma Culture and produced by Azienda Speciale Palaexpo and Sovrintentendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali in collaboration with Zètema Progetto Cultura. Curated by Costantino D’Orazio with Francesca Macrì and Claudia Sorace, curators of OLTRE TUTTO.
Idea, composition, visuals & sounds: Tomás Saraceno.
With project collaborators: Wanda Díaz-Merced, Stavros Katsanevas, European Gravitational Observatory and Peggy S. M. Hill, University of Tulsa.
With the support of Studio Tomás Saraceno in particular Sarah Kisner, Saverio Cantoni, Marina Höxter, Irina Bogdan, Lars Behrendt, Claudia Meléndez, Manuela Mazure, Dario J Laganà, Giulia Albarello, Gustavo Alonso Serafin, Lucas Mateluna, Jillian Meyer, Lugh O’Neill, Soledad Pons, Ilka Tödt and collaborators Christian Flemm and Caterina Nicolini.
With vibrations from the Arachnophilia community: Nephila senegalensis, Pardosa lugubris, Cyrtophora citricola, Habronattus dossenus from the Arachnophilia Archives recorded at Studio Tomás Saraceno, and Duncan Anderson, Ally Bisshop, Markus J. Buehler, Peggy S. M. Hill, Prof. Dr. Hannelore Hoch, Odysseus Klisouras, Marco Isaia, Elena Piano, Patrick Reddy, Roland Mühlethaler.
With vibrations from the universe: Wanda Díaz-Merced, Stavros Katsanevas, Vincenzo Napolano, European Gravitational Observatory, AGC7849 Spiral Galaxy, Solar winds, Solar storms, Cosmic Microwave background, Gravitational waves, Earth-Moon-Earth radio connections, Topography of the moon, Damian Elias, Dustin Jaschko, Advanced Composition Explorer, Nasa, AEROCENE, Giuseppe Greco, University of Urbino, Irene Fiori, Gary Hemming, Pierre Chanial, CA Muller Radio Astronomy Station, Dr. Gregory Neumann.
With sound processing in collaboration with Stefano Ferrari and Constantin Carstens at Paraverse Studios Berlin.
With moving images in collaboration with Matías Lix Klett, Felix von Boehm, Charlotte Jansen, Maximiliano Laina and archives from Tomás Saraceno: Quasi-social musical instrument IC 342 built by: 7000 Parawixia bistriata - six months, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, 2017, Particular Matter(s): Jam Session, How to entangle the universe in a spider/web?, Sounding the Air, Palais de Tokyo, 2018, Palazzo Strozzi, 2020.
Arachnomancy App: an artwork by Tomás Saraceno, developed with the Arachnophilia Archives, Studio Tomás Saraceno and Ingo Randolf, Mei-Fang Liau and Abe Pazos Solatie.
With producers from Rome: Martina Merico, Sarah Parolin.
With technical director from Rome: Maria Elena Fusacchia.
With light beams hosts in Rome: Lago Bullicante Ex Snia, Casa della Memoria di San Lorenzo, and Caritas in Colle Oppio Park.
With technical support from LaserAnimation Sollinger: Michael Sollinger, Daniel Brune, Janik Albrecht, Alina Wettengel.
With special thanks to Antonella Berruti and Francesca Pennone of Pinksummer Contemporary Art, Genoa, and Andersen’s, Copenhagen; Ruth Benzacar, Buenos Aires; and Tanya Bonakdar, New York/Los Angeles, Verónica Fiorito and the teams from Centro Cultural Kirchner, Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación Argentina and Canal Encuentro, and to all the community members of Arachnophilia, Arachnomancy and Aerocene.
Courtesy the artist.
© Tomás Saraceno, 2020
How to hear the universe in a spider/web: A live concert for/by Invertebrate Rights is property of Tomás Saraceno. Material may not be copied, reproduced, shared, modified or in any way distributed without express written consent from Studio Tomás Saraceno.