The Spider Lab consisted of the observational research and breeding center for the Spider Project, a feasability test for the collaboration with the Nephila spiders for the Spider Project installation. Research took place over two and a half years in my atelier in Cologne, beginning in March, 1998, and ending with the first exhibition of the project in Bonn in September, 2000. The remaining spiders from the project, their offspring, and the growing cocoons were all donated to the Koelner Zoo-Insektarium, where future generations will be available for furture collaborations. They would love to receive visitors.
During the research phase of the Spider Project, I worked with two different breeds of Nephilanae: N. madagascariensis and N. senegalensis. The Nephila madagascariensis built spectactular webs up to 110cm in diameter, but were very difficult to maintain because of their need for 96% + humidity. The Nephila senegalensis, building webs averaging 60cm in diameter, took over the collaboration and were a huge success, my biggest "problem" with them being providing enough space and food for such a robust and aggressive crew!
Links to The Lab photos are below. Additional N. senegalensis photos, including those of guest collaborators provided by the Cologne Zoo - a slightly different breed - will be uploaded in the Spring. The hectic days surrounding the exhibition left little time for maintaining the website and I am now on a research trip though S.E. Asia (see the flied-shlimp website for sitings of Nephila cousins in the wild) until April, 2001. Till then, text only. Sorry!
Photos from the exhibition, also the final site of the Spider Lab, are now online.
(CTW: Cologne October, 2000)
Dr. Hubert Höfer, the main biological advisor for the Spider Project, came to visit the exhibition in Bonn and was himself surprised at the success of his reccomendations: "I didn't know if it would really work, so many Nephila so close together in such a small space. I think no biologist has ever achieved this, nor even seen it, as the spiders do not live so closely together in the wild."
Needless to say, I was very proud of my spidies.