Open call: Reality-Based Audio Workshop

with Ernst Karel
location: BEK, Bergen, Norway (
dates: 20.-24th of August 2018

deadline for signing up: 1. May

Send an email for signing up or any other questions to: Please include a short bio when signing up. You will receive confirmation email if you secure a seat (limited to 8).

This five-day workshop on experimental nonfiction audio composition for experienced artists will provide an opportunity to create audio works which explore notions of ‘place’, where equal emphasis is placed on the practice of recording and on the tasks of listening back, making selections, and composing edited pieces with those selections.

The workshop is part of the ongoing series of Workshops for experienced artists at BEK and Notam (more info below).

In terms of location recording, we will focus not only on developing recording techniques, but more importantly also on aspects of the ways in which one experientially engages with a site or sites in the act of listening and recording. This approach, which we might call ‘ethnographic’, considers the act of recording not simply, or even not at all, as one of ‘collecting sounds’, but rather as a process of engaging in an encounter with a social situation or lived environment through all of one’s senses, albeit with an emphasis on that of listening. (Given the multiplicity of any such encounter, we might consider this practice as ‘fields recording’ rather than ‘field recording’.) And through this encounter, audio recordings arise.

With the audio recordings, we engage with them anew in the process of listening back and editing. In this part of the workshop, we will listen to, discuss, and work on issues of editing and composition as emphasis shifts from the original site of engagement with sound to the new space of an encounter with audio,  which Micah Silver productively calls ‘temporary social architecture made of air’ (Figures in Air, 2015). In thinking through composition, we will focus not on transforming audio beyond recognition through studio wizardry, but rather on listening intensively into what we’ve actually recorded, and seeking out what kind of compositions can be created using the audio as it is. Along the way though, of course, we will make use of and discuss subtle techniques such as EQ and dynamics processing, and possibilities for a flexible arrangement of Genelec monitors at BEK may provide multichannel or spatial compositional ideas as well.

While recording and composition are often solitary pursuits, collaboration can often lead to new and interesting results. This workshop will provide an opportunity for collaboration with other participating recordists/composers, especially in terms of editing and composition.


day 1
listen to and discuss relevant audio work and anthropological notions of place
discuss technology
discussion and research about the chosen site or network of sites (which site TBA)

day 2
engage in the acts of listening and recording on site.

day 3
listen back
discuss issues of criteria for evaluation
make selections, begin to edit in multitrack environment

days 4 and 5
collaborative and/or individual editing and composition
listening, evaluation

This workshop is geared towards people who have experience in recording audio and are interested in further developing their craft. Participants must provide their own stereo recording equipment (at minimum a small handheld stereo recorder), headphones, and a computer with multitrack audio editing software, such as Reaper, Nuendo, Pro Tools, or the like. Specialty/extended recording gear (e.g. hydrophones, coil microphones, multichannel microphone arrays) also welcome.

The participation fee to the workshop is 160 Euro for academic employees in 50% positions or more and 40 Euro for all others.

 We can not provide housing or travel costs, but we can help to try to find solutions so feel free to ask questions about this.

About Ernst Karel

Ernst Karel makes electroacoustic music and experimental nonfiction sound works for multichannel installation and performance, and collaborates with filmmakers and artists in making audiovisual work. His recent projects are edited/composed using unprocessed location recordings; in performance he sometimes combines these with analog electronics to create pieces which move between the abstract and the documentary.

From 2006-2017 he managed the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University, doing postproduction for nonfiction films including The Iron Ministry, Manakamana, People’s Park, Sweetgrass, and Leviathan. As a Lecturer on Anthropology, he developed and teaches a production class every other year in ‘sonic ethnography’.

Recent sound projections have been presented at Sonic Acts, Amsterdam; Maerzmusik, Berlin; Oboro, Montreal; EMPAC, Troy NY; Arsenal, Berlin; and the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Sound installations in collaboration with Helen Mirra have been exhibited at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston; Culturgest, Lisbon; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Audiorama, Stockholm; MIT List, Cambridge; and in the 2012 Sao Paulo Bienal. Electroacoustic music projects include the long-running duo EKG with Kyle Bruckmann. He also collaborates with film/video artists on installations and cinematic works. Ah humanity! (2015, with Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel) has been featured in large-scale outdoor installations including in the courtyard of the Archives Nationales in Paris for Nuit blanche and in a plaza at Harvard University, as well as indoor spaces including the Barbican Centre in London. His directorial debut, Single Stream (2015, with Toby Lee and Pawel Wojtasik), has been featured in film festivals around the world, including Locarno, Switzerland; FICValdivia, Chile; RIDM, Canada; CPH:DOX, Denmark; and Jeonju International Film Festival, Korea. CDs of his often collaborative work have been released on and/OAR, Another Timbre, Cathnor, Gruenrekorder, Locust, and Sshpuma record labels, among others.

Workshops for experienced artists at BEK and Notam

BEK and Notam are centers for innovation and use of technology in music and the arts in Norway. Both Notam and BEK have education as a core focus, and strive to establish new goals and provide new impulses for current music technologists and artists.

Notam and BEK will arrange a series of workshops intended for experienced users from 2017 to 2020. The workshops will be held in English, and will be arranged alternately in Oslo and Bergen. There is a limited amount of seats and highly qualified participants will therefore be prioritized. The series is supported by Arts Council Norway.