Peter Coffin

New Curve Art Commission

11 February 2009 - 10 May 2009
The Curve

Free admission

The latest installation in The Curve is by New York- based artist Peter Coffin. In this, the ninth new commission, Coffin explores various models of perspective and challenges the way in which we perceive space. In his sculptures, installations, photographs and videos, Peter Coffin examines our knowledge and interpretation of the world with curiosity and wit, borrowing from numerous disciplines, such as art history, science and New Age beliefs to test his ideas about the way things work and exist.

His largest installation ever in the UK, Coffin projects a 360- degree aerial view of Japanese gardens along the 90-metre curved wall of the gallery. When projected, this footage forms a continuous yet disjunctive landscape, challenging our sense of perspective and space. In Japanese garden design the use of illusionist effects such as overlapping elements, shifts in scale and multiple points of focus combine to give the viewer an abstract and heightened sense of reality. This spatial ambiguity of Japanese gardens and its illusionary affects are exaggerated by the 360 degree projection on the 90-meter length of The Curve.

Watch video of Peter Coffin's installation in The Curve

Coffin introduces sound to further alter our sense of space. In various positions in the gallery, the visitor encounters the soundtrack of someone walking and whistling, which is played back across a series of directional speakers. Coffin also presents a number of sculptures based on organic and man-made objects that have been rendered using a three-dimensional scanner and distorted to create spatial transformations that challenge how we understand a thing to exist in space while confounding traditional notions of representation.

Inspired by the belief that scepticism, irrational thought and intuition enables us to leap beyond logical conclusions, Coffin’s playful explorations of these ideas provide an intriguing antithesis to our understanding of the world around us. For example, In Untitled (Greenhouse), 2002, Coffin invited musicians, and sound artists to play to plants in a greenhouse situated in a gallery for the opportunity to experience a connection popularized by the claim that music may have beneficial effects on plants. Other projects have included portraits of a person’s aura taken with a specially designed Polaroid camera, found images of rainbows composed into a psychedelic spiral, trousers made for trees and a seven metre wide UFO flown over the Baltic coast and Gdansk.

The Curve opening times:
Daily 11.00am – 8.00pm
Except Thursdays 11.00am-10.00pm
The Curve is open until 10pm every Thursday


Peter Coffin is the ninth in a series of site-specific commissions for The Curve.

Barbican Art Gallery in London presents major exhibitions by leading international figures in the heart of the City of London.


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