Peter Sasowsky’s Heaven + Earth + Joe Davis (2010) premieres at Raindance Film Festival 2011 in October. This film could be considered as underground film’s answer to The Invention of Dr. Nakamats (2009), and much, much more.

Heaven + Earth + Joe Davis is an inspiring and subversive record of counter-culture, documenting the unusual life and work of Joe Davis, labelled the quintessential mad scientist by society as he tirelessly attempts to combine science with art.

The line Call Me Ishmael not only stands for the name of one of his projects, but also represents the many themes that the film could share with the subtexts of nature and human behaviour in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. He is also the first and only man to send vaginal contractions into outer space, the concept of which soon reveals itself to be an act of rebellion against social and sexual intolerance.

Joe’s treatment of science as an artistic expression is mirrored by the film itself, which begins to resemble avant-garde and experimental cinema as it fills the screen with mesmerising images of stentor and paramecia activity, stylistically pans across scientific symbols, and adopts an inconsistent editing technique. Occasionally, Joe’s voice-over is chaotically edited, sometimes even layered, jumping from one complicated concept to the next. Disorientating yet appropriate, the film adapts to Joe’s personality in both content and form, giving additional meaning to his saying that sometimes the absurd can turn out to make the most sense.

Constantly being moved from his work space and evicted from his homes, Joe struggles to find an appropriate place in a society that favours the banal requirements of regular life and science, yet he continues with his uncompromising approach saying “since all of our dreams are going to come true, somebody’s gotta have some good dreams.”

This film is rightfully predicted to be the next big thing on the documentary scene, and has the potential to reshape perceptions and possibilities within art today, as well as question our planet’s intolerance and stagnation. Nevertheless, Joe Davis is proud to be an earthling. The greatest leaps of imagination are often the least understood in their lifetime. Is he as crazy as he seems?

(This post can also be found here)

Reeling The Real is a website dedicated to the discussion of all kinds of moving image including documentary, film essays, archive re-use, artists' moving image and more.

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