Nggam Web Vibration © Tomás Saraceno

Tomás Saraceno

Spider/web vibration, divination… for the terrestrial and cosmic web(s) of life, 2024

One way of apprehending Earth and its ecosystems is through the medium of vibration. All living and non-living matter contains energy, a force that connects every particle of the Universe – be they a blade of grass, a stone, an insect, a human body or a comet. For the spider, its Umwelt is one of vibration. Essentially blind, the web-building spider creates an image of the world with the vibrational tremors it sends and receives through the web, functioning as an instrument for transmission and reception.

Together with spiders and their webs, scientists, and those who engage situated knowledge, Tomás Saraceno and the project- community Arachnophilia has expanded the possibilities for inter- and intra-species relations. The installation for Radical Playgrounds translates onto the ground the vibrations of Holocnemus pluchei, Steatoda bipunctata, and other local spiders, opening possibilities for attuning to non-human ways of being. Developed in conversation with Arachnophilia member Roland Mühlethaler, Play-Ground is a walk-in installation where cobblestones shake according to frequencies of the spiders’ and cosmic web. If playgrounds are places where we learn through play, this area offers other lessons in planetary re/creation.

Like the so-called butterfly effect, which posits a causal relation between a butterfly flapping its wings in one place and winds that swirl to form a tornado in another, this installation directs vibrations elsewhere. From the play-ground of Gropius Hain, to the spiders and diviners of Somié, Cameroon, where the practice of ŋgam dù spider divination helps humans seek knowledge about their lives. Bollo Pierre ‘Tadios’ is one interlocutor with Heteroscodra crassipes, or ŋgam as they call her—a ground-dwelling species. The spiders may be open for questions through the web, initiated in 2021 with the funding of the Berliner Festspiele. The artist’s fee was used to support the spider divining practice.


Tomás Saraceno is an Argentina-born, Berlin-based artist whose projects dialogue with forms of life and life-forming, rethinking dominant threads of knowledge in the Capitalocene era and recognizing how diverse modes of being engage a multiplicity of vibrations on the Web of Life.



Evarcha arcuata, Steatoda bipunctata, Araneus diadematus, Pardosa lugubris, Holocnemus pluchei… with (Bollo Pierre ‘Tadios’, Iréné Nguea, ŋgam) and Arachnophilia