UNESCO Arts, Science & Technology

Joe Davis
Microvenus (2000)

Joe Davis is a research affiliate in the Department of Biology at MIT. He is an artist who has done extensive research in molecular biology and bioinformatics for the production of genetic databases and new biological art forms. He has also constructed sculptural installation pieces, working with laser fabrication in plastics, steel, and stone; laser teleoperator systems; and structural welding in mild steel. His teaching experience in the MIT graduate architecture program (Master of Science in Visual Studies) and in undergraduate painting and mixed media at the Rhode Island School of Design has informed his artistic practice. He has exhibited in the United States, Canada, and Europe at Ars Electronica.

Microvenus is a simple symbol like a "Y" and an "I" superimposed. It is both a Germanic rune representing life and an outline of the external female genitalia. Digitized and translated into a string of 28 DNA nucleotides, Microvenus first slipped between the genes of E. coli in 1990. The bacteria quickly multiplied in its beakers into billions of cells, each carrying a separate instance of the icon. “I'm probably the most successful publisher in history."