New Naturality of Artificial World: a Thread Spider Web


S.L.M.C. Titotto, Arq.

School of Architecture and Town Planning, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.





This work outlines results of an ongoing investigation on aesthetics, using spider webs as physical support and point of departure for spatial reflections.


One of the practical results is a piece of installation art to be performed at the 7th Generative Art Conference GA2004, which transits on the borderline between fine arts, architecture, as well as taking into consideration some structural engineering concepts.


In this context, a few artistic installations have already been performed in museums and galleries in Sao Paulo, in order to explore the intrinsic relationships between the technology of the cable structural systems and the aesthetic possibilities open by their characteristic forms, interacting with light, color, textures, movement and environment.


1. Motivation

Forms found in nature are shaped for maximum efficiency, transferring the required amount of force with the least amount of material. In “On Growth and Form”, D’Arcy Thompson suggests the shapes of living things are largely the result of adaptation to physical forces [1].


All natural structures must resist the physical forces of tension and compression. To adapt and increase efficiency, natural forms prefer tension members because compression members have a propensity to buckle. It uses the maximum amount of tension members concentrates compression into localized regions.




Figures 1, 2. Dew drops on a spider web: jewellery semblance


The web is made of a network of tension strands, with the spider and captured prey acting as localized compression struts. Since the web must resist the same physical forces as civil structures, the web’s form provides an elegant model by which maximizes efficiency.


Efficient forms are often aesthetically pleasing. Some of the terms we commonly use to describe works of art, such as balance and symmetry, are derived from functional considerations, such as efficiency [2].



Figure 3. Web Sampler #50, Pae White, 2001. Gallery, 1301PE.
Works on Paper. Materials: Spider web on magenta coated stock.


However, an efficient design is not necessarily an aesthetically pleasing one. Numerous structures exist that are efficient but lack aesthetic value. Connecting design to natural forms can avoid this pitfall. An important component in our aesthetic appreciation of nature is our desire to feel an emotional connection with our environment.


Aldersey-Williams [3] points out that in Jungian psychology, a wild animal often represents the Self, and we immerse ourselves in nature to nourish this connection. When organic forms inspire us, we can design efficient structures that mirror them – works of structural art that arouse our sense of harmony with our environment.


The structurally efficient form evokes aesthetic pleasure because it echoes our emotional connections with biological forms.


2. Installation art


 4         5


Figure 4.Nature Spider web; 5.Nature-inspired web made of rubber threads, Silvia Titotto, 2004.



Figure 6. In Exhibition: Web (rubber, thread, rocks), Silvia Titotto and Jung Chi, 2004.


2.1 GA2004 Installation art: some principles

The visitors who aim to go through the artwork passages made of flexible threads might have the possibility of feeling of being integrated to the oeuvre, while they are exploring it.


The material translucency aggregates subtleness values to the web, which is more or less intense all along the porches, depending on the wire quantity.

The structural threads running from the outside of the web to the centre provide great firmness, while the catching threads running around the structural threads ensure the necessary flexibility.



Figure 7. Structural principles of the nature spider web


2.2 Execution

2.2.1 Material for web

             Lycra 120 Dernier, DuPont technology


2.2.2 Dimensions

According to room sizes (possibly 3m x 3m x 3m)

2.2.3 Light

 Light spots (100W each) for the tonal intensity.

2.2.4 Foundation

Hanging hooks from the ceiling, walls and floor.

3. Acknowledgments

Thanks to FAPESP for supporting this research.


4. References

[1] Willis, Delta. The Sand Dollar and the Slide Rule: Drawing Blueprints from Nature. New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1995.


[2] French, Michael. Invention and Evolution: Design in Nature and Engineering. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.


[3]Aldersey-Williams, Hugh. Zoomorphic: New Animal Architecture. New York: Harper Design International, 2003.