Spiders and their Webs

It was also important to him to make the cycle of life comprehensible through his nature photographs, to illustrate relationships of interdependence, and to show how we are also involved in those relationships as living beings. At some point during the nineteen-sixties, he was fond of explaining this with reference to the example of the spider he had once observed from his desk – for the insect’s lifetime and several days beyond – in the corner of a window in the workroom of his house in New Milford. The tiny organism, no larger than a pinhead, grew over the course of the summer into a stately spider. The spider does not hunt for food: it depends on chance prey, on flies and other insects that are caught in its web by accident. The spider simply waits patiently. Its web is an incarnation of geometry, clarity, and symmetric design, supremely economical and constructed instinctively with a minimum of material, an architectural masterpiece spun with a degree of tensile strength that, pound for pound and inch for inch, surpasses even that of steel. The spider also depends on other living things and could not survive alone. With the exception of certain bacteria, no living organism can exist in complete independence, every organism plays a part in the sympphony of life as Andreas Feininger wrote repeatedly in his many books about the ‚language of nature‘.

Thomas Buchsteiner, „Andreas Feininger. A Photographer’s Life, 1906-1999″ (Zweisprachige Ausgabe in Deutsch und Englisch, Hatje Cantz Verlag)

Andreas Feininger, „Spiders and their Webs“