Profile: Art as a Form of Life; April 2001; Scientific American Magazine; by W. Wayt Gibbs; 2 Page(s)
CAMBRIDGE, MASS.-Either Joe Davis is late or I am lost. For the third time, I check the address: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, building 68, room 604D. Here it is, locked and looking nothing like a studio for avantgarde art. "SEVERE EYE DAMAGE," cautions a sign on the door, referring to a laser inside. There are bins marked "RADIOACTIVE WASTE," refrigerated vaults containing cells in stasis, ultracentrifuges the size of washing machines, but no paints, no sculpting tools.
I wander downstairs to the office of Alexander Rich, the biophysicist who famously discovered "left-handed" DNA (the normal stuff twists to the right), who worked out the structure of transfer RNA and who invited Davis into his laboratory in 1992 as a "research affiliate," which grants the artist a space to work and access to the lab's expensive tools but no direct financial support. There is still no sign of Davis, until I press my nose against the window of a door to a small white room.