Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

Feb 14, 2020 at 10:00 am – Feb 16, 2020 at 5:30 pm

Creative Field Recording: Practicing Knowledge Through Sound

In 1992, the anthropologist Steven Feld coined the term acoustemology, a combination of acoustics and epistemology to argue for “sound as a way of knowing.” In doing so it inquires into what is knowable, and how it becomes known, through sounding and listening.

In this three-day intensive workshop, lead instructor Zach Poff will use field recording to explore sound as a way of knowing that embraces phenomenology, relationality, and reflexivity. We will practice knowing through sound, listening with an ear toward the relationships between humans, non-humans, and processes that surround us. We will practice knowing with sound as we contribute our own gestures back into the network of sounding subjects through domains like radio, sound art, music, and film.

This workshop features listening sessions, hands-on recording demonstrations, introductions to novel sensors like contact microphones and hydrophones, and participatory and performative group work. Each session is anchored by a presentation from an invited guest artist: Viv Corringham, Bonnie Jones and Monteith McCollum.

Sound disrespects boundaries and connects disciplines so this workshop is open to anyone with a passion for sound: filmmakers, sound artists, podcasters, musicians, writers, or simply curious listeners.

Participants will get in-class experience with an array of professional recording equipment, but it will be beneficial to bring your own. (See Technical Requirements below.) Each day will conclude with opportunities for participant work-in-progress critiques.


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for sound artists,  podcasters, filmmakers, writers, journalists, curators, musicians and media artists.  

Give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. When you register you will be sent a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience and a current 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, but not necessary), plus a bio. There’s a spot for a link to a work sample.

$295 early bird registration by February 4, 2020 at 5PM.

$350 regular registration.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until February 4th. After February 4th the fee is non-refundable.

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a BYOL, i.e. bring your own laptop. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

Recorders and microphones will be provided for in-class demonstrations only. To get maximum benefit from the workshop, participants should bring a recorder and whatever external microphones they have. (Smartphone at minimum.) The instructor has a list of recorder recommendations here: https://www.zachpoff.com/resources/zachs-recorder-recommendations/

At registration, please let us know what make/model of recorder you are bringing, so we can make sure to accommodate everyone.

To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash . After the early bird registration deadline of February 4th, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines 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.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Friday, Feb. 14th – 10:00a - 5:30p

Intro & Welcome

AM: Viv Corringham

This session asks us to consider the following questions, in the context of active listening, soundwalking, and the activation of space through voice:

 Does sound affect us physically and/or psychologically?

 Can sound help us to understand our environment?

 Can listening help us to understand sound?

 Can sound exist without listening?

 How do we decide which sounds to listen to?

 Are sounds chosen for their essential sonic qualities ?


PM: Zach Poff

We will discuss notions of the “field” and the many ways to “record” it (with microphones of course, but also through writing, singing, drawing, etc). We will introduce sonic vocabulary, recorder fundamentals, and practical mike techniques before going outside to make recording in the field.

Saturday, Feb. 15th – 10:00a - 5:30p

AM: Bonnie Jones

This session explores the physical and material dimensions of sound and field recordings. We’ll explore how this informs musical composition and live performance. Using recordings collected by students, we’ll improvise soundscapes and explore alternate performance strategies that combine sound with text, video, and other media.

PM: Zach Poff

How can we open our ears to the listening of others (people, animals, geology, the inanimate)? In this session we will learn how unconventional sensors like contact mics, hydrophones, light-listeners, and electromagnetic pickups can expand the field recording encounter. We will revisit the locations where we recorded on Friday, hoping to discover new aural perspectives.

Sunday, Feb. 16th – 10:00a - 5:30p

AM: Monteith McCollum

This session will explore recording processes and the manipulation of sound for both fiction and non-fiction film soundtracks. Emphasis will be placed on the creation of “cinematic sound,” blurring the lines between sound effects and music. A variety of techniques to shape and layer sound will be introduced. Segments of select films will be viewed and analyzed in order to illustrate compelling sonic approaches.

PM: Zach Poff

Inspired by the morning session, we will put theory into practice with a culminating set of experiments in sound or sound/image pairing. We will create several small-group events that exercise the connections we made throughout the weekend. Forms could include participatory soundwalks, performances, sound compositions, “scores” for videos, etc. This is a moment to practicing knowing with sound – the embodied sensation of sharing sound with others, hearing and being heard.

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


Warm up, inspiring references, case study, eye training.


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


Wrap Up


Zach Poff is a New York area media artist, educator, and maker-of-things. His artwork is rooted in open systems that eschew individual authorship in favor of collaborative or generative models. His algorithmic remixes of popular media uncover hidden subtexts lurking inside familiar forms. Other recent work employs unique sound tools to explore the web of social and ecological relationships that challenge and sustain us. He considers his art-making, teaching, and software development to be contributions toward a culture of sharing & empathy, in direct opposition to commercial media’s cult of the individual. In 2015 he received a commission from Wave Farm Transmission Arts to create Pond Station, a long-term outdoor sculpture that live-streams the underwater sounds of a pond. He currently teaches Sound Art at Cooper Union School of Art in NYC and leads workshops on “expanded” sound recording at universities and arts organizations throughout the US.

Viv Corringham  is a British-born US-based singer who for the past 40 years has been cutting her own distinctive path as a singer and vocalist ranging across free improvisation, Greek Rembetika, Turkish folk and other styles of music, often combined with environmental field recordings made during solo walks. Her work includes concerts, soundwalks, radio works and multi-channel installations. She is interested in exploring the sense of place and how it links with personal history and memory. Her many awards include two McKnight Composer Fellowships through the American Composers Forum. She holds an MA in Sonic Art from Middlesex University, London. She also studied and performed with Pauline Oliveros and holds a Teaching Certificate for Deep Listening. She facilitates workshops in sounding and listening, most recently in Hong Kong, London, Bangalore, New York, Kolkata and Manila.

Her work has received international recognition and been presented in many festivals and venues including Issue Project Room New York, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Onassis Centre Athens, Institute of Contemporary Art London, Serralves Contemporary Art Museum Portugal, Ftarri Tokyo, Ohrenhoch Sound Gallery Berlin, Arts University Taiwan, Shantou University China, Soundworks Festival Brussels, Tempo Reale Festival Florence, and Soundout Festival Canberra.

Articles about her work have appeared in many publications, including In the Field (UK), Art of Immersive Soundscapes (Canada), Organised Sound (UK), Musicworks (Canada), Catskill Made (US), Playing With Words (UK) The Wire (UK) and For Those Who Have Ears (Ireland).

“musically impressive:…long ornamented vocals perfectly punctuated by the…woodpecker’s hammering…a chordal drone in sync with a close-up bee…channeling an ancient crone, splitting vocal tones in some…essential ritual prayer.”(Review of On the Hour in the Woods – the Wire, March 2019).

Bonnie Jones is a Korean-American improvising musician, poet, and performer working with electronic sound and text. She performs solo and in numerous collaborative music, film, and visual art projects. Bonnie was a founding member of the Transmodern Festival and CHELA Gallery and is currently a member of the High Zero Festival collective. In 2010, she co-founded TECHNE https://technesound.org/, an organization that introduces young female-identified women to technology-focused art making, improvisation, and community collaboration. TECHNE’s programs are delivered through partnerships with grassroots organizations that share an aligned commitment to racial and gender equity. She has received commissions from the London ICA and Walters Art Museum and has presented her work extensively at institutions in the US, Mexico, Europe and Asia. Bonnie was a 2018 recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. Born in 1977 in South Korea she was raised on a dairy farm in New Jersey, and currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland. https://bonnie-jones.com/

Monteith McCollum is an inter-media artist working primarily in time based arts, and sculpture.  Over the last two decades he has made both feature length documentaries and short experimental films, and done sound design for narrative, doc, and experimental films. He has screened at festivals and museums including MOMA ,the Hirshhorn, and festivals including SXSW, San Francisco International Festival, Hot Docs, and New Directors New Films. His films Hybrid, Milk in the Land, and Lawn received national airing on PBS series POV and he has received funding in both sound and film from New York Foundation for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, NEA,  Jerome Foundation and Kodak. His most recent work is focused on A/V performances that straddle his interests in sculpture and cinema. He is currently an Assoc. Prof. in the Film Dept. at Binghamton University and an Artist Advisory Member at New York Foundation for the Arts.

+ Register


The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking "Get Tickets" will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
Tickets are no longer available


Feb 14, 2020 at 10:00 am
Feb 16, 2020 at 5:30 pm
$335.00 – $350.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
+ Google Map

Support UnionDocs’ next phase and new building by becoming a member

Peek in the window of our bustling building in NYC and tune into the ideas and energy bubbling up from the UNDO Center.

Tune into cutting-edge, powerful and poetic documentary programs and connect to conversations with the artists and thinkers passing through.

Now available at the Apple Store.



Unlimited access to all of our monthly offerings for the price of two espressos.



Keep it simple and save. Unlimited access to our sweet offerings for a reduced, annual fee and receive some added benefits.



In the neighborhood, a working artist, student or senior? This membership is for you. Fill out a quick form for a discount code to an annual membership.



Get all of the benefits of the Annual UNDO Membership plus an annual subscription to UnionDocs Editions, a set of publications, merchandise or special objects.

UnionDocs is grateful for support from:

UnionDocs is hiring. 

Join the UnionDocs team.

Pod Pod 2023 Group 02

Pod Pod is now accepting applications.
Apply today!

Calling all AUDIO MAKERS looking for a bit of motivation, peer support, collective production and a dose of inspiration for your personal project —  join us for 3 months this Fall!