San Francisco Chronicle
Saturday; July 29, 2OOO

Photographs and Pranks at Catherine Clark

Photographer Aaron Plant is lucky that visitors to the Catherine Clark Gallery encounter his subdued, creepy pictures before they see the zany inventions of Davis & Davis Research Labs.

. . .

A step or two beyond the faintly sadistic atmosphere of Plant's playgrounds are mock sex-research contraptions by the team of Davis & Davis Research Labs.

Davis & Davis Research Labs, as they want to be known, have cobbled together devices that purport to gauge arousal, or tolerance for pain or gullibility or some combination of them, in willing participants.

Their 'Teeter Meeter/Joe, Claite, and Noah" (2000) is a seesaw rocker intended to - indeed certain to produce anal stimulation in male subjects.

The experimental subject at each end of the rocker sits pantless on a golfball size sphere and rides the device "until orgasm or other resolution" occurs. A video of the device in use plays continually.

Much of Davis & Davis Research Labs' wit is in the detailed instructions for their experiments. Their texts - usually the driest ingredient in conceptual art are precisely crafted satires of researchers' curiosity. The apparatus is really here to anchor the texts, rather than the reverse, as we might expect. No other mode of work, except perhaps fiction, could give immediacy to parody of clinical research's dissociative excess.

An ancestry for what they do is easy enough to find in the work of people such as Chris Burden, Vito Acconci and Marcel Duchamp, to say nothing of Masters and Johnson.

AARON PLANT. Photographs
DAVIS & DAVIS. Works in mixed media. Through next Saturday.
Catharine Clark Gallery
49 Geary St., San Francisco

Email Kenneth Baker at