Arachnoid Affair

The big picture

PHOTO: Matthew Andrews

Early in September, a gigantic mechanical spider took to the streets of Liverpool, England, drawing a crowd of tens of thousands that paralyzed the city center. It was all part of an arts and culture celebration, and for two days the 15-meter-high arachnid paraded through town accompanied by musicians and other performers. Built by the French group La Machine, the robotic beast had a steel and wood frame powered by 50 hydraulic actuators. A dozen operators strapped to the spider controlled its articulated legs, and a wheeled crane supported its 37â''metric-ton body. The arachnofest was pricey—it cost nearly £2 million—but it left Liverpudlians exhilarated. Some kids even cried when the spider vanished in a cloud of smoke. There are rumors that it will emerge in another city next year.

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