Joe Davis

Hidden Knowledge
April 1 - April 19, 2013


2013 JoeDavis w Printed Rocks 
Bio Artist Joe Davis, inset: imprinted rocks  


Exhibit Notes

An MIT and Harvard Medical School research affiliate and world-renowned pioneer in the emerging field of bio-art, Joe Davis revealed his newest installation, “Hidden Knowledge,” created in collaboration with Mines students, at 5 p.m. Friday, April 5, in the Apex Gallery on the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology campus.  There was also a film screening of HEAVEN + EARTH + JOE DAVIS, a documentary by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Peter Saskowsky accompanied by a Q&A with both men.

Escaping tidy descriptor or simple explanation, Davis’ art, like the laboratories from which it springs, emerges at the vanishing point between experience and experiment.

Ranging from placing a map of the Milky Way into the ear of a transgenic mouse (where the genes of one species are placed inside the cells of another) to transforming light information into sound in order to hear living cells, his artwork and research probes the fields of molecular biology, bioinformatics, sculpture and space art, using tools as diverse as centrifuges, radios, prosthetics and magnetic fields of genetic materials.

Davis’ newest installation proves to be just as unorthodox. Partnering with Mines students, he will stamp around 500 stones with the DNA sequence of the wild apple Malus sieversii – the first apple to ever exist. Until now, the wild apple’s DNA had never been sequenced, allowing Davis’ project to also serve as a test bed for next-generation nanopore DNA sequencing technology. After the exhibit ends, the stones will be transferred to the courtyard of Chemical and Biological Engineering/Chemistry building, a fitting tribute to the work unfolding within.

The School of Mines exhibit will serve as a prototype for a permanent, larger-scale installation at Harvard Medical School entitled “Shadow Garden,” which will be displayed in an atrium housing more than 180,000 rocks, 46,000 of which will be stamped.

Deborah Mitchell, director of the Apex Gallery, seizing the opportunity to explore the nexus of science and art, invited Joe Davis to the School of Mines to share his work. Mitchell is currently working on developing a visiting artist’s program to bring more such opportunities to campus.

A wild progenitor species of the domesticated apple, M. sieversii was initially dispersed via the Silk Road, a historic trade caravan route leading from Central Asia east to China and west to Europe. As trade declined over the last few centuries, this flow of apple germplasm slowed, ceasing completely in the 20th century as Central Asia became isolated for political reasons.

archive 2013

Please note that this website is still being constructed.  Not all past exhibits are represented and more will be added soon.