Davis, Joe

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Digital access to this material is pending artist's approval. Materials may be viewed onsite at the Goldsen Archive, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Kroch Library, Cornell University.

The first definition of "art" in the American Heritage Dictionary, 1st edition, is "Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature." Merriam-Webster's 7th New Collegiate says, "human ingenuity in adapting natural things to man's use". Confronted with these definitions, many artists automatically find themselves in denial. But artists have only to define themselves. Art is ultimately defined around them. There have always been arguments about whether or not what I do is really art. I hold no classical credentials in the sciences, yet many of my scientific colleagues have decided that I must be one of them. Artists too will often confer that indictment simply because I can negotiate both languages, or because one or another of my artworks has been seen to represent some sort of scientific interest, or because I have decided to repossess some or another tool or technique that has been perverted elsewhere to the detriment of human good. Yet, I am in fact an artist in the purest sense. I am even an artist by dictionary definition.


Recent Submissions

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  • Item
    2008 Rockefeller New Media Foundation Proposal
    Davis, Joe (2009-06-09T17:53:12Z)
    "Call Me Ishmael" (1: 1a model/project development)- Over recent centuries, since Benjamin Franklin's famous experiments with thunderstorms, humans have developed sufficient understanding of electromagnetism that the power of lightning might now be harnessed and put to useful purposes. A work of art could be constructed that might, by itself, help reduce the fury of storms, restore balance to the atmosphere -- even interact with extraterrestrials using a medium that spans to nearby stars. Here, a proposal is offered to help develop such a project. In particular, this proposal calls for construction of a 1:10 working model of three 96-foot shafts of aluminum angled upwards into the sky and forming a single, 106-foot tower designed to precipitate lightning discharges into itself. It will have at its core several robust electrical parts that could locally "lase" nitrogen in the atmosphere, in order to transform chaotic pulses of lightning into coherent shafts of light. It would be a massive UV laser that could beam energy from ground level back up into the atmosphere and then, out into space.