Neri Oxman, W. Craig Carter. Imaginary Beings (Arachne). 2012

Neri Oxman, with W. Craig Carter Imaginary Beings (Arachne) 2012

  • Not on view

This work is one in a series of eighteen speculative designs, each referencing a creature from Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings (1957)—a compendium of descriptions and stories of fantastic creatures compiled from various literary sources. Arachne—as described in the narrative poem The Metamorphoses by the first-century Roman poet Ovid—was a mortal weaver whom the Greek goddess Athena transformed into a spider as punishment for boasting that her talents surpassed those of the goddess and for daring to create a more beautiful weaving.

Oxman was inspired by the variability of spider silk—spiders are known to spin up to six kinds of thread, each with a different tensility and purpose. Though Oxman also took inspiration from the myth of Arachne and the insolent weaver’s arthropod descendants, this flexible armor is modeled after the human rib cage and is meant to augment its function by shielding bony tissue and providing muscular flexibility. This conceptual design for human augmentation was constucted with the help of cutting-edge 3D-printing technology.

Oxman has dubbed her creations “design provocations”—tools and a vocabulary with which to discuss and propose new, economical, and sustainable approaches to building and living. As a whole, the eighteen pieces in the Imaginary Beings series form a library of design principles inspired by nature, informed by mythology, and executed by technology.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Design firm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, MIT Materials Science and Engineering
Medium
3D printed multicolored Vero acrylic polymer
Dimensions
approx. 20.5 x 13 x 9" (72.4 x 33 x 22.9cm) irreg.
Printer
Stratasys
Credit
Committee on Architecture and Design Funds
Object number
760.2014.1
Copyright
© 2019 Neri Oxman
Department
Architecture and Design

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.