Ronan Whittern


Listen to the walls. . . Listen to the ceiling

In Feburary 2020, Nathan Watts and Ronan Whittern were nominated by the International Ensemble Modern Academy for the Bauhaus Residency Programme, and lived and worked in the Dessau Master Houses for one month, culminating in a one hour performance at the Haus Moholy-Nahy (Kurt Weill Museum) as part of the Kurt Weill Fest 2020. Six composers were commissioned to write miniatures for the performance: Elnaz Seyedi, Gregor Forbes, Henry McPherson, Bianca Bongers, Jack Hughes, and Theo Chandler. The works were performed around the space of the Haus Moholy-Nagy, and the audience were invited to explore the space in order to experience the sonic signature of the room.

When you are ready, close your eyes and become aware of your breath.

Feel the sensation of breathing, maybe it’s on the tip of your nose or in the rise and fall of your chest.

Listen to the sound of your breath.

Listen to the sound of the person closest to you.

Now to the sound of the person farthest from you.

Now expand your awareness to the room around you.

Now expand your awareness to the room around you.

Listen to the floor. . .

Listen to the walls. . .

Listen to the ceiling. . .

Notice any sounds inside or outside the building.

How does the height of the ceiling, the intensity of the light, the shape of the room affect you?

As we explore the house, return to this moment of breathing.

(Moholy-Nagy Meditation, Nathan Watts, 2020)

“Parchments (functional apparatus) is an assemblage of three painted scores (black Japanese ink on 300gsm cream cartridge, 29.7 x 42.0cm), layered in eight different configurations and backlit by LED. The work draws conceptually on histories of tattooing, of mark-making, vellum inscription and trace, and explores the idea of layers of memories and wisdom(s) held in the ‘skin’ – of bodies, of instruments, of buildings, of communities.

How do we hold the memories of the things that have touched us? What does it mean to touch and sound?

The work can be explored by 1 – 3 movers or instrumentalists in an improvisation capacity.

All eight paintings should be utilised in performance. Performance should be between 10 and 30 minutes long.

Scores can either be printed, and laid in any grid or linear configuration on the floor, or projected, one-by-one onto the wall or floor (if this is the case, care should be taken to ensure that colour distortion is not too evident).”

(Parchments (functional apparatus) Henry McPherson, 2020)

“Our process was guided mainly by our intuition. We began with commissioning miniature pieces from 6 composers based on a text from Moholy-Nagy. From the beginning of our working process, we explored different aspects of the Bauhaus, eventually settling on the work of László Moholy-Nagy. Our working process was very fluid, starting in a more experimental and developmental stage, slowly moving into a more structured and formalised process as the project came to a close. Always central to this experimental stage was the core concept of the project, which was the work of Moholy-Nagy, particularly his ideas of light, shadow, and depth.”