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Ideas from a Japanese Garden

Date: 2009 April 06 17:37

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Fans of Japanese inspired art will want to visit the Barbican in London on Wednesday 22nd April 2009 on 6:45pm to see Ideas from a Japanese Garden. Where Marc Treib, Professor of Architecture Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley and author of A Guide to the Gardens of Kyoto, examines key ideas behind historical garden design in Japan, and considers their potential relevance to art in the West. Admission is free.

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Press release as follows:

Peter Coffin

The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, London
11 February - 10 May 2009
Supported by: Arts Council England and The National Lottery

The latest installation to be commissioned as part of the Curve Art series is by New York- based artist Peter Coffin. In this, the ninth new commission for The Curve, 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. He borrows from numerous disciplines, such as art history, science and New Age beliefs to test his ideas about the way things work and exist.

In his largest installation ever in the UK, Coffin projects a 360- degree aerial view of Japanese gardens along the 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.

Coffin introduces sound to the installation to further alter our sense of space. Directional speakers placed in various positions in the gallery project the sound of someone walking and whistling. The sound is isolated so that it is experienced by the visitor at different points as they wander through the exhibition. The third component to the work is a series of sculptures presented alongside the projections. Sculptures of everyday objects are 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. The objects have been manipulated by the artist in collaboration with mathematician Philip Ording. The original objects and their counterparts are shown side by side.

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.

Peter Coffin lives and works in New York. Born in Berkeley, California in 1972, he received a graduate degree from the prestigious research institution, Carnegie Mellon University. He has also exhibited a number of solo exhibitions, including Yellow Outline, Centre d'Art Contemporain, Fribourg, Switzerland, 2008; Untitled (U.F.O.), at the Festiwal Gwiazd, Gdansk, Poland, 2008; Untitled (Greenhouse), and ETATS / Grow Your Own at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, 2007; and The Idea of the Sun, Peter Coffin, le Confort Moderne, Poitier, France, 2007. He has exhibited in group exhibitions at institutions throughout Europe and America including Museo de Arte Contemporanea, Vigo, Spain, 2008; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, 2008; Museum of Contemporary Art Miami, 2008; Tate Modern, London, 2007; P.S.1/MoMA, Long Island City, New York, 2005 and 2001 and South London Gallery, London, 2004. Coffin took part in the Moscow Biennial, 2007 and Manifesta 7, 2008 and will take part in the Tate Triennial in February 2009.

The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, London
Opening times: Daily 11am – 8pm,
Time Out First Thursdays open until 10pm
Public information: 0845 120 7550
Admission free

22 Apr 2009/ 6.45pm / The Curve
Ideas from a Japanese Garden
Marc Treib, Professor of Architecture Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley and author of A Guide to the Gardens of Kyoto, examines key ideas behind historical garden design in Japan, and considers their potential relevance to art in the West.

The Curve is the Barbican’s free exhibition space that wraps around the back of the Concert Hall. Launched in May 2006, Curve Art is a series of new commissions inviting contemporary artists to respond to the distinctive architecture of the space. International artists who have previously made new commissions for The Curve are Argentinean artist Tomas Saraceno; British artist Richard Wilson; Danish artist Jeppe Hein; Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrč; Iranian born Shirana Shahbazi; Austrian artist Hans Schabus; Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping and most recently Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

One of the leading art spaces in the UK, Barbican Art Gallery presents the best of international visual art with a dynamic mix of art, architecture, design, fashion and photography. From acclaimed architects to Turner prize-winning artists, the Gallery exhibits innovators of the 20th and 21st centuries: key players who have shaped developments and stimulated change. The Curve is dedicated to a vibrant programme of new commissions, created by leading international artists in direct response to this distinctive gallery space. Visit for more information.

Source: Barbican
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