David Cotterrell

David Cotterrell In Other Worlds, I Love You photo: Thierry Bal


David Cotterrell’s In Other Worlds, I Love You is an enigmatic sphere, sitting in Tower Wood like a miniature planetarium presenting a roving image of space and time. A moving picture of radio waves received from deep space takes Biennial visitors on a journey billions of years through our universal history.

Cotterrell presents a panoramic rendition of the sky, produced by the compilation of data received by radio telescopes around the world over many years and supplied by Dr Tim O’Brien at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. At different wavelengths, the sky appears radically altered, with new bodies and events appearing and disappearing as the program moves from one aspect of the radio spectrum to the next. The shifting colours the artist has used follow conventions for the representation of wavelengths that are outside the visible spectrum, but the assignment of colour is not codified within astronomy and is often a personal, aesthetic decision. Most prominent in the images is a bright band streaking across the sphere’s interior. This is the Milky Way’s galactic plane, in which the majority of our disk-shaped galaxy’s mass lies.

The artist transposed data coordinates from an Earth- to a Sun-based model, which is what astronomers use when calculating distance and time. While Ptolemy’s Almagest advocated a geocentric model of the universe for simplicity of calculation, the sixteenth century Copernican Revolution recommended a heliocentric view. Neither is correct. The observable universe is a sphere with a radius of approximately 46 billion light years and the mass, shape and ultimate size or time of the universe (or indeed the multiverse) is not known.


David is an installation artist working across varied media including video, audio, interactive media, artificial intelligence, device control and hybrid technology. His work exhibits political, social and behavioural analyses of the environments and contexts, which he and his work inhabit. Over the last ten years, his work has been extensively commissioned and exhibited in North America, Europe and the Far East, in gallery spaces, museums and within the public realm. Recent exhibitions include: ‘Eastern Standard: Western Artists in China’, MASS MoCA, Massachusetts; ‘War and Medicine’, the Wellcome Collection, London and the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden and ‘Map Games’, Today Museum of Modern Art, Beijing.

David is Professor of Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University, has been a consultant to strategic masterplans, cultural and public art policy for urban regeneration, healthcare and growth areas and is a council member of AIR, an artists' representative body with over 15,000 members.

He recently staged a solo exhibition at John Hansard Gallery, 'Monsters of the Id', with the support of the Philip Leverhulme Prize for research and is currently developing new work for solo exhibition in London.


On Sunday 1 September, two talks relating to this work will take place:

Exploring the Invisible Universe
Rostherne Room, Stableyard
Dr Tim O’Brien, Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Observatory, will talk about his work at Jodrell Bank.

David Cotterrell: In Conversation
Site 8, 3.30pm
Artist David Cotterrell will be joined by the curators and Dr Tim O’Brien to discuss his work for the Biennial and the nature of working to commission.