Ben McDonnell Promo_edited.jpg

Ben McDonnell



Ben graduated with a masters degree in photography from the Royal College of Art In 2017, his undergraduate degree was jazz composition and performance from Leeds College of Music. Ben's studio is in south east London, UK.

Ben's work uses photography, sound and sculpture to raise questions around stability, support and structure. He draws inspiration from sound, music and the built environment. He was recently selected for the Chisenhale Studio Residency in 2019 and by Outset Contemporary Art Fund for a residency in Vancouver, this was supported by the British Council and Vancouver Biennale.

In 2018 he completed a studio residency and exhibition with PADA in Lisbon, Portugal, and was commissioned to make new work for Concealer, part of Peckham 24 photography festival. Ben's work has been shown internationally and is held in public and private collections. As well as giving talks at numerous universities and institutions he is currently a lecturer in photography at Manchester
Metropolitan University.




Ben will discuss outcomes and emergent themes of his research during his recent residency at Chisenhale Studios.

"The Sound We Inhabit" is a body of work developed during the residency and comprises a piece of music, installation and set of graphic scores based around the dissonance between a desire for quick, responsive and temporary architectures and the need for longer term stability and support.

Focusing on sound and music as a form that is both inhabitable but inherently amorphous and temporary, the work is context contingent. The space it is performed in influences note choices, pitch interaction and duration. It is the intention that the work could be compacted and re-arranged in another space producing a different iteration of the piece. The graphic scores give the musicians the minimum information needed to perform the piece, allowing for their own improvisatory ability and interpretation while giving enough support to enable successful and genuine interaction between the four musicians, the space and the audience.


The piece was written in five movements for Korean flute (Taegum), Electric Guitar, Bass Clarinet and Violin, although the work can be performed by any instrumentation. The room was ‘tuned’ to accentuate the natural resonant frequency of the space, the by-product of which is that the space studio been divided by ‘sonic structures’. These temporary, movable structures were made and held together using a method adapted from theatre practice.

Some examples from "The Sound We Inhabit" will be installed in the space at Here East in addition to a presentation of the project.