Who is Douglas Davis?

Douglas Davis is an artist who specializes in making new media turn inside out--that is, do what it's not supposed to do (he makes video touch you, prints speak, the InterNet lie down in your lap like a puppy). He is also known as a pioneer in "long-distance art," most of all live satellite video and now streaming video theater on the Web. He gorges on advanced and traditional technology, including interactive websites, intercontinental performances linking "real" and "virtual" sources, high-density volumetric imagery, video-casting/installations, printmaking, drawing, and photography, as well as post-minimal "objects" and installations.. He has also used ancient, peeling paper, film, radio, and vintage stereopticons. With Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik he created the first live global satellite broadcast of video performance art in 1977, for Documenta 6.

Critic Donald Kuspit calls Davis "one of the more magnificent minds engaging modern art and modern media." His early work is defined and analyzed on his still-active website, The World's First Collaborative Sentence (1994), where elements from his exhibition, InterActions 1967-1981 is presented as background. They include critical essays by Susan Hoeltzel, Michael Govan, David Ross, and Nam June Paik. Commisioned by the Lehman College Art Gallery, the Sentence was given by its collectors, Barbara and Eugene M. Schwartz, to the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1997, P.S.1/The Institute of Contemporary Art joined with several other museums to host MetaBody (The World's First Collaborative Visions of the Beautiful), commissioned by George Waterman III. In 1997, Davis launched Terrible Beauty, an evolving global multi-media theater piece. Its "chapters" have been performed before audiences in New York, Dublin, San Francisco, and Berlin.

He has taught advanced media at more than 25 universities and art colleges and served as consultant in this field for several corporations & foundations. Davis' book, Art and the Future, published in several countries in 1973, is considered a classic in the field of art and technology. ArtCulture: Essays on the Post-Modern (1977), is a widely-quoted book of theoretical essays. The Museum Transformed (1991) is what Arthur C. Danto calls "a truly pioneering work" in the burgeoning genre of museum studies and theory. The Five Myths of TV Power (or, Why the Medium is Not the Message), 1993, focuses on the crucial importance of the viewer, the "human" element in media theory.

Davis has been awarded grants for his work by the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts & the Trust for Mutual Understanding, among other institutions. He has testified often before Congress in behalf of artist's rights. In 1996, he co-founded with a group of artists and organizations a new collaborative devoted to the digital arts,"ThunderGulch," based in Lower Manhattan.

Exhibitions (Selected, One-Man and Group)

The Anagrammatic Body, Neue Galerie, Graz, Austria, 1999 (travels)
The Net. Condition, Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany, 1999
The American Century, Part II, Whitney Museum, 1999
Governor's Conference on the Arts and Technology, Information Technology Center, New York (installation), 1998
P.S. 1/Institute of Contemporary Art, New York (website), 1997
WithDrawing, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, 1996
X-Art Foundation, New York, 1996
Kwangju Biennale, Korea, 1995
Museum Sztuki, Lodz, Poland, 1995 (retrospective)
InterActions (1967-1981), Art Gallery, Lehman College, New York City, 1994
Discours Amoureux, Galerie St. Gervais, Geneva, 1994
TranceSex, Amanda Obering Gallery, Los Angeles, 1993
Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (one-man), 1992, 1985, 1984, 1981, 1980, 1977
Centro de Arte y Communicacion--Harrod's en Arte, Buenos Aires, 1991
Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany, 1989
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1986, 1988
Whitney Museum of American Art, (Biennial 1985), 1981, 1977, 1972
Venice Biennale, 1976, 1978, 1986
The New Museum, New York City, 1983, 1984
The Museum of Modern Art, 1983, 1984
The Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, 1983, 1984
Metropolitan Museum of Art , 1982 (traveling exhibition)
Wadsworth Atheneum, 1982-1983
Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1981


Books by Douglas Davis (Selected)

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Essays, Statements, Fiction 1977-1996 (in preparation)

The Five Myths of TV Power [or, Why the Medium Isn't the Message] , Simon & Schuster, 1993

The Museum Transformed: Architecture & Culture in the Post-Pompidou Era, Abbeville Press, 1990

Photography as Fine Art, Shueisha, Tokyo, 1983; E.P. Dutton, 1984; Hill Company, 1987

ArtCulture: Essays on the Post-Modern, Harper, 1977

The New Television: A Public/Private Art, co-edited with Allison Simmons, MIT Press, 1977 (proceedings of MOMA's Open Circuits, 1974)

Art and the Future: A History-Prophecy of the Collaboration between Art, Science, and Technology. Praeger, 1973 (reprinted by Thames & Hudson, London, and Dumont-Schauberg, Cologne)


Books and Catalogues about Douglas Davis (Selected)

The Anagrammatic Body, eds. Peter Weibel and Christa Steinle, Neue Galerie, Graz, 1999

Art of the 20th Century, ed. Ingo Walther. Taschen, Cologne, 1998

Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art, ed. Peter Selx and Kristine Stiles, U. California Press, 1997

Redness, ed. Uszula Czartoryska (with essays by Joseph Bakshtein, Margarita and Victor Tupitsyn, Martha Wilson, and Helen Fisher), Museum Sztuki, Lodz, Poland, 1995

Inter Actions, poster-catalogue, ed. Susan Hoeltzel (with statements by Michael Govan, Eugene M. Schwartz, David Ross, and others), 1994

Douglas Davis, Donald Kuspit (with afterword by Eugene M. Schwartz), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1988

Content: A Contemporary Focus, 1974-1984, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., 1984

Kunst and Video. Bettina Gruber and Maria Vedder, Dumont, Cologne, 1983

Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs, Weston J. Naef, Metropolitan Museum of Art, E.P. Dutton, 1982

Douglas Davis: Video Objekty Grafika, ed. Ryszard Stanislawski (with essays by Urszula Czartoryska, John Hanhardt, and Irving Sandler). Museum Sztuki, Lodz, Poland, 1982

Websites (Selected)

--The World's First Collborative Sentence (commissioned by Lehman College Art Gallery; collection Whitney Museum of American Art, gift of Barbara and Eugene M. Schwartz): http://math240.lehman.cuny.edu/art

--MetaBody (The World's First Collaborative Visions of the Beautiful). Commissioned by George Waterman III Collection; co-sponsored by P.S.1/The Institute of Contemporary Art, New York; Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell, Ithaca; Municipal Art Gallery, Reykjavik, Iceland; Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, and others, 1997: http://this.is/METABODY

--Terrible Beauty (an Evolving Work of Interactive Global Theater), 1997-2000, performed to date in New York, Dublin, San Francisco, and Berlin: http://here.is/TERRIBLEBEAUTY

--http://www.this.is/DOUGLASDAVIS, 1997-to date, evolving.

Perfomances (Selected, often using broadcast TV and Radio/Websites) and Guest Commentaries

Trans-Mediale, Berlin, 1999...ArtHouse, Dublin, Ireland/OnLineTV, New York, 1998...ThunderGulch at the Information Technology Center, New York, 1997...Museum Sztuki, Lodz, Poland, and Center for Contemporary Arts, Warsaw, 1995... Lehman College Art Gallery, Here Arts Center, Franklin Furnace, New York, with links to Geneva, 1994...C-Span; CNN; Canadian TV; WNYC radio & TV; 23 radio stations, many NPR, 1993... Centro de Arte y Communicacion, Buenos Aires 1991....Good Morning, America, ABC-TV, 1990, 1991, interviews....1989, College Art Association, Little Rock, 1989...Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum & Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinatti, & National Public Radio, 1988...Menage a Trois, 1986 (satellite video, Guggenheim Museum-Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam-VeniceBiennale, carried by PBS, VPRO-TV in Holland, RAI-3 in Italy...National Public Radio, 1980, 1981, 1983 (live radio performances) Double Entendre, 1981 (satellite video-radio performance, Whitney Museum-Centre Pompidou, Paris)...The Last Nine Minutes, 1977 (satellite video performance, Documenta 6 & West German Television, transmitted to 25 countries)...Seven Thoughts, 1976, the Houston Astrodome, live global satellite message to the world co-sponsored by Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, and Giuseppe Panza di Biumo...Two Cities, Flesh, a Text, and the Devil, 1976, simultaneous performances/cablecasts co-sponsored by the Long Beach, Calif. Art Museum and Artist's CATV Television in San Francisco...Talk-Out!, 1972, three-hour interactive telethon co-sponsored by the Everson Museum and WCNY-PBS....Electronic Hokkadim, 1970, interactive broadcast performance from the atrium of the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C., sponsored by WCBS-TV.

Collections, Private and Public (Selected)

Metropolitan Museum, New York
Whitney Museum of American Art
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Hirshorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Museum Sztuki, Lodz, Poland
Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Nagoya Museum of Modern Art, Japan
National Gallery, Canberra, Australia
Barbara and the late Eugene M. Schwartz
Giuseppe di Biumo Panza, Milan
Marilyn Oshman, Houston
George Waterman III, New York


Read various texts on Douglas Davis' Redness project:

Go to the Terrible Beauty web-site:

Read Douglas Davis' statement about MetaBody

The world's first collaborative sentence:

Learn how to join the sentence:

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