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We play in the Canvas of the Spider, her web is our instrument.

Ian Hattwick: sound design, real-time audio processing
Christine Southworth: visual design, photography, guitar
Isabelle Su: virtual-environment research, coding & design, real-time visualization & navigation
Evan Ziporyn: Concept & sonification design, EWI (electronic wind instrument)
Arachnodrone is a multi-dimensional multimedia performance environment created by Ian Hattwick, Christine Southworth, Isabelle Su, and Evan Ziporyn. We play in the canvas of a Cyrtophora citricola tropical tent-web spider, gifted to MIT Professor Markus Buehler’s Laboratory for Atomistic & Molecular Mechanics by artist Tomás Saraceno. She is an orb-weaver in the family Araneidae. Using sonification of a 3D model of this single spider’s web, in the harmonic language of Just Intonation, we turn the web into an interactive virtual instrument based on the proportional length of each individual piece of silk and their proximity to one another. Her web becomes a 1700-string resonating harp that we inhabit and activate sonically. Moving through the web, we create a 'sonic biome' in which complex harmonies come in and out of earshot based on proximity and resonance. The spider's geometries are the foundation for our vibrations, providing us a soundscape through which we can wander and with which we can interact.
Spider's Canvas / Arachnodrone was premiered at Tomás Saraceno’s “On Air” exhibition at Palais de Tokyo in Paris November 23, 2018. This project is sponsored by MIT’s Center for Art, Science & Technology.

Artist, researcher, and technology developer focused on the creation and use of digital systems for professional artistic performances, specifically interested in the use of multimodal hardware systems to explore and facilitate social and embodied interaction.

Ian Hattwick
sound design, real-time audio processing

Multimedia composer dedicated to creating art born from a cross-pollination of sonic & visual ideas inspired by intersections of technology & art, nature & machines, and art from cultures around the world.

Christine Southworth
visual design, photography, guitar

MIT LAMM 2021 PhD specializing in computational methods to understand and validate the mechanical properties of silk and spider webs.

Isabelle Su
virtual-environment research, coding & design, real-time visualization & navigation

Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music and Faculty Director of MIT CAST, conductor/composer/clarinetist who has forged an international reputation through his genre-defying, cross-cultural works and performances.

Evan Ziporyn
Concept & sonification design, EWI (electronic wind instrument)


September 22, 2023-May 2024
MIT Museum, 314 Main Street, Cambridge, MA

Arachnodrone Installation
Get caught in our web at MIT Museum! Now through May, 2024, open 7 days a week 10am-5pm.

September 26, 2023 / 6:00–7:30pm
MIT Museum, 314 Main Street, Cambridge, MA

Arachnodrone Performance and Panel Discussion: “Sonification: Hearing Black Holes, Spiders, and Mycelium"
Cambridge Science Festival
A performance combining spider web sonification, electronics, and musical improvisation will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Evan Ziporyn and featuring Christine Southworth ’02; Isabelle Su, PhD ’21; Erin Kara, Class of 1958 Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics; and Kyle Keane, Lecturer, MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).

November 9, 2023 / 6:00-9:00pm
MIT Museum, 314 Main Street, Cambridge, MA

Meet the Arachnodrone Artists
MIT Museum After Dark

September 21, 2023-Fall 2024
MIT Museum, 314 Main Street, Cambridge, MA

Arachnodrone Installation

January 30 2021

Trinity College at Oxford presents Spider's Canvas/Arachnodrone in an online virtual concert.

September 23 2020
Starlight Square

Central Square Theater's Starlight Square presents Spider's Canvas/Arachnodrone, Cambridge, MA

Spring 2019

Arachnodrone installation at MIT.Nano Cambridge, MA

November 23 2018
Palais de Tokyo

Spider's Canvas, presented by Palais de Tokyo and Festival d’Automne à Paris as part of Tomás Saraceno: Carte Blanche "On Air" exhibition, Paris, France

News & Publications

Sonification of a 3-D Spider Web and Reconstitution for Musical Composition Using Granular Synthesis
Isabelle Su, Zhao Qin, Tomás Saraceno, Ally Bisshop, Roland Mühlethaler, Evan Ziporyn, Markus J. Buehler | Computer Music Journal (2020) 44 (4): 43–59
Three-dimensional spider webs feature highly intricate fiber architectures, which can be represented via 3-D scanning and modeling. To allow novel interpretations of the key features of a 3-D Cyrtophora citricola spider web, we translate complex 3-D data from the original web model into music, using data sonification.
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‘Spider’s Canvas/Arachnodrone’: A web of otherworldly music
Erin Blakemore | The Washington Post
What do spider webs sound like?
If you’ve never considered the question, don’t stress: Scientists and musicians have. They’ve created an interactive, multimedia performance that lets you tour a spider-spun web that makes otherworldly music.
“Spider’s Canvas/Arachnodrone,” a sonic exploration of a spider’s web, is the result of a meeting of minds at MIT.
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Interactive exploration of a hierarchical spider web structure with sound
Isabelle Su, Ian Hattwick, Christine Southworth, Evan Ziporyn, Ally Bisshop, Roland Mühlethaler, Tomás Saraceno, Markus J. Buehler | Journal on Multimodal User Interfaces | Issue 1/2022
3D spider webs exhibit highly intricate fiber architectures and owe their outstanding performance to a hierarchical organization that spans orders of magnitude in length scale from the molecular silk protein, to micrometer-sized fibers, and up to cm-scale web. Similarly, but in a completely different physical manifestation, music has a hierarchical structure composed of elementary sine wave building blocks that can be combined with other waveforms to create complex timbres, which are then arranged within larger-scale musical compositions.
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