Silk Pavilion Project

Creating art is human nature: like language and cooking, art is embedded in human identity. However, other beings on earth create art in the structures they create to survive, such as the webbing pattern of spider webs and the hexagonal pattern of beehives. In late June 2020, Neri Oxman’s Mediated Matter Group started the Silk Pavilion Project in a facility in Teolo Italy, armed with a vision and about 17,500 silkworms (none of whom were killed in the making of the project). After accruing his thousands of silkworks, he worked to move to another facility in Abano Term, where he had a premade structure covered by a thin, white knit fabric, essentially acting as scaffolding for the silkworms to spin and pupate. The scaffolding, referred to as the “jig” was occasionally turned so that the silk would be spun evenly around the structure. Because the worms were spinning on a flat surface as opposed to in the open, the silk was spun as sheets, as opposed to small cocoons. The end result, after gently spinning the jig almost 15,000 times, almost looks like a sleeve (or an artistic rendering of a wormhole in space) six metres tall and five metres wide, moved to a large, suspended display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The goal of this art project was to showcase nature as the architect and artist, with Oxman seeing enormous beauty in the complex structures built by the smallest creatures. The project hints at the potential for greater cooperation between humans and nature in building natural, biodegradable structures, pushing back against the usually destructive nature of manufacturing and production. Like other projects that showcase the natural ability of species to create an aesthetically pleasing object for humans, there are questions of the ethical trespasses of manipulating species for human enjoyment. However, the artist does seem to have taken precautions to ensure that no silkworms were harmed during the project by placing a tarp beneath the creation to catch any stragglers and prevent them from being hurt on the ground.


Climate Change, Ecological Monitoring, Lifestyle, Monitoring, Pollution, Visual Technologies