What comes together through sound is emergent and passing time — a sense of duration, the field of memory, a fullness of space that lies beyond touch and out of sight, hidden from vision (…) Through that strange anomaly of the senses, the way we perceive the world and the ways in which we represent those perceptions, we strain to hear what can never be there. — David Toop, Sinister Resonance
Friday, Apr 21 at 10:00 am – Sunday, Apr 23 at 5:00 pm
Creative Field Recording for Expanded Sound Design
With lead instructor Maile Colbert and guests Andrea Williams, Zach Poff, Bonnie Jones, Kevin T. Allen, Monteith McCollum and Raquel Castro
Sound has a special relationship to emotion, instinct, and memory, both individual and collective. Tapping into an ancient area of our brain, sound provides immediate information telling us where we are, if it is safe, and how we should feel about that. “Based on hearing, listening (from an anthropological point of view) is the very sense of space and of time..,” Roland Barthes wrote in his 1985 essay, Listening. Barthes further notes, “[N]oises have been the immediate raw materials of a divination, (cledonomancy): to listen is, in an institutional manner, to try to find out what is happening”.
This three-day intensive and immersive workshop, produced by UnionDocs and lead instructor – sound artist, designer, and researcher Maile Colbert – will have its participants considering the path from listening, to recording, to designing sound for various project forms, covering topics and techniques from listening to Deep Listening, soundwalks and sound recording in the field, the relationship between the soundscape and sound design, and what is carried and created on the path from recording and recordings, to sound art, performance, and design.
Open to everyone. We are looking for filmmakers, radio producers, phonographers, sound and media artists, museum curators and archivists and others interested in working with field recordings. All lovers of sound welcome! Those with a desire to expand field recording techniques and to use recording for creative sound design encouraged to apply.
Give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. When you register you will be asked for a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience and a film project (it would be great if you have a project in progress that you would present to the group during the work-in-progress critique sessions), plus a bio. There’s a spot for a link to a work sample (and CV, which would also be nice, but is not required).
$385 early bird registration by April 7th at 5PM.
$450 regular registration.
Includes Sunday night public event.
The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until April 7th. After April 7th, the fee is non-refundable.
In order to keep costs down, this workshop is b-y-o-l, bring your own laptop. Recording equipment is not required, but iPhones or other handheld recording equipment is welcomed. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their own computers or other equipment.
To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via PayPal. Course fees are not refundable or transferable, and any withdrawals will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.
In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.
Friday, April 21: 10am-5pm — Introduction to Creative Field Recording
Day one will include an introduction to Deep Listening techniques and bodywork exercises, learning how to re-tune and open our ears, from the passive act of hearing, towards the active activity of listening. We will then learn soundwalk creation techniques, and take their tuned ears on a guided soundwalk. We will then apply our focused listening to learning various recording tools and techniques, for beginners and experienced recordists alike.
AM: Andrea Williams
Sound artist, Andrea Williams, incorporates listening into her art practice through her studies in acoustic ecology and also from collaborating and teaching with Pauline Oliveros. In this two-hour seminar, you will learn and practice some of Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening bodywork exercises that open up the ears for listening. You will also get a brief overview of the history of participatory art walks and Andrea’s techniques for creating a soundwalk. We will take a soundwalk together with listening in mind. Please wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle.
PM: Zach Poff
In this session, we will establish techniques for capturing compelling sounds with microphones, contact mics, hydrophones, and electromagnetic sensors. It is intended for beginners as well as experienced recordists who want to expand their sonic palette. First we discuss sound physics and perception to inform our microphone choices and placement. We will practice specific techniques to establish scale and perspective in the field, then approach the same sites with unconventional DIY sensors. Throughout the workshop we will discuss often-overlooked details like wind protection, storage, and equipment advice for all budgets.
Saturday, April 22: 10am-5pm — Expanded Field Recording
Day two will continue the production flow towards further expanded techniques, tools, and methods for recording towards live and cinematic productions.
AM: Bonnie Jones
Bonnie will explore the line from recording to use of recordings for composition and performance techniques with an emphasis on improvisational music approaches and performances incorporating text, visuals and other elements.
PM: Kevin T. Allen
Field recordings and location sound are often dismissively described as “B roll” in the film world. But what does it mean when such sound material moves from background to foreground and becomes a central character on screen? How can such a shift in thinking transform the very material we glean and tools we use in the field? Can such a notion even expand our concept of the “field”? In this workshop, we discuss expanded strategies of recording and constructing sound environments for the moving image.
Sunday, April 23: 10am-5pm — Soundscape and Sound Design
Day three will conclude with various approaches to expanded sound design, cinematic and live, with field recordings and the soundscape.
AM: Maile Colbert with Raquel Castro
Maile Colbert and Raquel Castro will screen and discuss Castro’s 2008 short film Soundwalkers.
There are some fundamental principles regarding the construction of an acoustically healthy society, one where we can exist within the sounds of life. Respect towards voice and words, sonic awareness, the awakening of the sense of hearing. To preserve the sounds that tend to fade out, while remaining open to the sounds that spring out of each technological stride. To build an aural idiom that interprets its own symbolism. To accept the silence, enforcing it in the due moments. And, above all else, to listen.
PM: Monteith McCollum
Monteith McCollum will focus on techniques for shaping, layering, and abstracting field recorded sounds, while addressing differences in adapting tools & concepts for live performance.
**Special Sunday night public event begins at 7:30pm**
A night of films by Mark Street, Tinne Zenner and Monteith McCollum with live scores performed by Maile Colbert and Monteith McCollum.
Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:
Warm up, inspiring references, case study.
Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique
Share / Discussion / Exercise
Lunch (on your own)
Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique
Workshop Exercise + Critique
Maile Colbert is an intermedia artist with a focus on sound and video. She is currently a PhD Research Fellow in Artistic Studies with a concentration on sound studies, sound design in time-based media, and soundscape ecology at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, through the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, and a visiting lecturer at the Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto. Her current practice and research project is titled, Wayback Sound Machine: Sound through time, space, and place, and asks what we might gather from sounding the past.
Andrea Williams, New York sound artist, utilizes site-specific elements and perceptual cues to reveal the unseen connections between people and their environment. Her compositions make use of field recordings, instruments, computer technologies and the sound of the performance space itself. She has led soundwalks in New York City and San Francisco, and has shown and performed both solo and with various musicians and artists at galleries and alternative spaces internationally, such as the Whitney Museum, Eyebeam, Children’s Creativity Museum, NPR, and the Mamori sound artist residency in the Amazon rainforest. She is a board member of the American Society for Acoustic Ecology, and she is studying our connection to water via soundwalks at RPI in NY for her Ph.D.
Zach Poff is a New York area digital media artist, educator, and maker-of-things. Through his artwork, teaching, and software he examines the tremendous opportunities and challenges that arise from the translation of our experiences into “information”. His recent work has been focused on how traditional broadcasting reverberates into digital media and influences notions of an emerging post-broadcast discourse. He currently teaches Sound Art at Cooper Union School of Art in NYC.
Bonnie Jones is a Korean-American writer, improvising musician, and performer working primarily with electronic music and text. Born in 1977 in South Korea she was raised on a dairy farm in New Jersey, and currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland. Bonnie creates improvised and composed text-sound performances, videos, and installations that explore the fluidity and function of electronic noise (field recordings, circuit bending) and text (poetry, found, spoken, visual), exposing the tensile nature of identity, history, form, and meaning. Bonnie has received commissions from the London ICA, Walters Art Museum, Vox Populi and has presented her work extensively in the US, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. She collaborates frequently with writers and musicians. She received her MFA at the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College.
Kevin T. Allen is a filmmaker and sound artist who makes ethnographically imbued “sound-films” in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, the Wild West, and the migrant farm worker community of Immokalee, Florida. Recent research leads him to find culture not exclusively in human forms, but also inherent within physical landscapes and material objects. His work is featured internationally at museums and festivals and is funded through the Jerome Foundation. He is an assistant professor of sound and filmmaking at The New School.
Raquel Castro was born in Viseu, in 1976. She currently lives and works in Lisbon. In 2003, a video project about oral memory made her travel around Portugal and live in several regions of the country, collecting voices, images, sounds and children’s drawings. She started to think about the way sound relates to the identity of a place, so she decided to start a research on sound studies. She directed the documentary Soundwalkers which was presented in Subtropics Festival in Miami and screened at various conferences of sound art and documentary film festivals. She collaborates sporadically with live visuals for theater and concerts. As a freelancer, she regularly directs and edits tv commercials, videoclips and other institutional works. As a teacher, she taught Direction and other disciplines at Universidade Lusíada, in Lisbon. She holds a PhD in Communication and Arts titled Sound, Space and Acoustic Identity. She is the founder and curator of the sound art festival Lisboa Soa and of Invisible Places, an international symposium on sound, urbanism and sense of place.
Monteith McCollum is an inter-media artist working in film, sound, and sculpture. His films have screened at Festivals and Museums including MoMa, The Hirshhorn, Wexner Center for the Arts and Festivals including SXSW, Slamdance, San Francisco, Amsterdam IDFA, & Osnabruck European Media Arts Festival. His films have garnered dozens of festival awards including an IFP Truer than Fiction Spirit Award. In addition to making films Monteith has consistently been creating unique compositions for films and performances. Compositions are included on the NYFA Fellow CD compilation by Innova. His film and sound work have received support from organizations including New York Foundation for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, NEA, Jerome Foundation and Kodak. Recent Audio Visual performances of “Hidden Frequencies” include HallWalls, Fylkingen, Bric Arts Media House NY, and Alchemy Film Festival.