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)
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
--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
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:
Or go this way: