Bio and CV

I use listening to explore the web of connections that challenge and sustain us. Sound bends around obstacles and leaks through borders, complicating visual binaries like interior & exterior. I build “expanded” field recording devices to listen to objects and underwater environments, revealing hidden interiors like a doctor’s stethoscope probing the systems of the body. This act of “auscultation” helps me to consider my relationship to the more-than-human as I stretch my ears to practice other ways of listening, communicating, and inhabiting the world. By extending the reach of the audible, perhaps we can appreciate the enormous complexities of other lives more generally, encouraging a more empathetic relationship toward each other and our environment.

– Zach Poff, 2021

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 recent work employs unique sound tools to explore social and ecological relationships (Pond Station, Sferics). His algorithmic remixes of popular media uncover hidden subtexts lurking inside familiar forms (Radio Silence, Video Silence). 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 in Acra NY, 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 UnionDocs, colleges, and arts organizations. He taught previously at Bennington College and Cooper Union Continuing Education.

He has received fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts, and Wave Farm. His work has been shown in the U.S. and internationally at venues including the 2013 Portland Biennial, ISEA 2008 (Singapore), Art Interactive, Artists Space, The Stonington Opera House, Hallwalls Art Center, Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art, and Polli Talu Art Center (Estonia).

He was a member of MAP Intermedia, a group that combined dance, video and sound work in a collaborative environment that challenged the traditions of authorship within the performing arts.

He has assisted artists like Nina Katchadourian, Walid Raad, Lynn Sachs, and Dennis Adams to complete challenging video, sound, and interactive works.

Awards and Residencies

  • 2013 Artist in Residence, Wave Farm Transmission Arts
  • 2009 AIRtime Fellowship, Wave Farm Transmission Arts
  • 2009 Invitational Symposium – Haystack Mountain School
  • 2008 Residency, ISEA 2008, Singapore
  • 2007 Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA)
  • 2004 Residency, Polli Talu, Estonia (with MAP Intermedia performance group)
  • 2001 Residency, Armenia – Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art

Selected Exhibitions and Projects

Annual:

  • Pond Station (established 2015) included in yearly 24hr REVEIL worldwide live streaming event

2021

  • Participating Artist in Listening Room, organized by Ella Finer for “Alternatives to Crisis – Campus for Climate Action” conference at Bath Spa University
  • Patapsco Stream – New live stream audio installation to mark the emergence of the 17 year cicadas (Locus Sonus Sound Map)
  • Auscultation series – Ongoing series of field recordings exploring the vibrations of objects and underwater environments

2020

  • Pond Station – included in Manifesta 13 (Marseille, FR)

2019

  • Optical Sound Performance – Wave Farm Audio Buffet

2017

  • Witnesses: Trikaya – (with nbaldrich) installation at The Cannery, Maine

2016

  • Sferics 2: Bell Cloud – (with nbaldrich) The Cannery, Maine
  • The Sun Dialogs (v2) included in Radiophrenia radio series, Glasgow Scotland

2015

  • Witnesses: Trikaya – (with nbaldrich) installation at Ottawa School of Art
  • Pond Station – long term installation commissioned by Wave Farm, Acra NY
  • The Sun Dialogs included in Climactic Climate radio series on WGXC FM and Kunstradio Austria
  • Eight Translations included on 60×60 Wave Farm Mix
  • Performance with Microkingdom – LiveWire Festival, University of Maryland

2014

  • Many Callers included on Sonic Terrain’s World Listening Day album
  • Pond Station featured in Documenta 14 (part of Render: Radiaphiles by Knut Aufermann and Sarah Washington)

2013

  • Sferics 2: Bell Cloud – (with nbaldrich) Portland Biennial, Maine
  • Pond FM – (with nbaldrich) installation at Wave Farm, Acra NY
  • Witnesses – SCOPE NY Art fair (at See.Mee booth)
  • Uncovered – Headscapes exhibition, NYC
  • Enchanted, Parallel Rhetoric, Explosions & Reactions – See.Me Gallery, NYC

2011

  • Enchanted circuit-bent chant boxes – BLACKOUT group show at Port d’Or
  • Soundscape Composer (with nbaldrich) permanently installed at Center for Maine Contemporary Art, ME
  • Sferics & Aural Ecosystem (with nbaldrich) – Center for Maine Contemporary Art, ME
  • Witnesses & Interference Patterns– Sequence of Waves group show

2010 and earlier

  • 2010 – Radio Silence – Devotion Gallery, NYC
  • 2009 – Enchanted circuit-bent chant boxes – Printed Matter Book Fair, NYC
  • 2009 – The Shape of Memory (with nbaldrich) – Lord Hall Gallery, University of Maine
  • 2008 – The Alchemist’s Secret Assistant – Eyes and Ears 2 Festival, Hallwalls Art Center, NY
  • 2008 – Parallel Rhetoric: Coming and Going – Auburn University
  • 2008 – Appropriate Response (with nbaldrich) – National Museum of Singapore (ISEA 2008)
  • 2008 – The Past is a Ghost (with nbaldrich) – SPACE Gallery, Portland, ME
  • 2008 – The Baltic Sea (with nbaldrich) – FILE Electronic Language Festival, Brazil
  • 2008 – The Baltic Sea (with nbaldrich) – VELOCITY, Folly Art Center, UK
  • 2007 – Aural Ecosystem, The Past is a Ghost, Sentiment Machine (with nbaldrich) -Art Interactive, Cambridge, MA
  • Artist Statement (with nbaldrich) – Journal of the New Media Caucus
  • 2007 – Parallel Rhetoric, Explosions and Reactions – MEDIAWORKS, Perimeter Gallery, ME
  • 2007 – The Shape of Memory (with nbaldrich) – Int. Symposium on Comp. Aesthetics, Banff, Canada
  • 2007 – The Shape of Memory (with nbaldrich) – Time Out, CMCA, ME
  • 2007 – Movement Reflection (with nbaldrich) – 312 OnScreen, Newfoundland, Canada
  • 2007 – Movement Reflection (with nbaldrich) – Zemos98 Festival, Sevilla, Spain
  • 2006 – Observational Soundscape IV (with nbaldrich) – Perform.Media festival, Indiana U
  • 2006 – Documentation (with NB Aldrich) included in “When Artists Say We” – Artists Space, NYC
  • 2006 – Parallel Rhetoric: 2001 + 2005 – “Dynasty” exhibit at Gallery MC, NYC
  • 2006 – Parallel Rhetoric: Coming and Going – Carnegie Art Center, NY
  • 2006 – Interactive Soundscape Designer (with nbaldrich) – Hallwalls Art Center, NY
  • 2006 – Observational Soundscape III (with nbaldrich) – Bates College, Olin Arts Center
  • 2005 – Parallel Rhetoric: 2001 + 2005 – WORK Gallery, Ann Arbor MI
  • 2005 – Observational Soundscape II (with nbaldrich) – Cooper Union Art School, NYC
  • 2005 – Movement Reflection (with nbaldrich) – Not Still Art festival, NYC
  • 2005 – Stonington Soundscape (with nbaldrich) during residency at The Imagination Project, ME
  • 2005 – Observational Soundscape I (with nbaldrich) – University of Maine at Orono
  • 2004 – Variatsioonid (with nbaldrich and Brendan McCall) – Stonington Opera House, ME (US premiere)
  • 2004 – 0011 (with nbaldrich and Duane Ingalls) – Ayers Island Contemp. Arts Fest, ME
  • 2004 – Variatsioonid (with nbaldrich and Brendan McCall) – Polli Talu, Estonia
  • 2004 – Kick in the Eye (rev 2) (with nbaldrich and Brendan McCall) – Unity Arts Center, ME
  • 2004 – Kick in the Eye (rev 1) (with nbaldrich and Brendan McCall) – St. Marks Church, NYC
  • 2003 – Explosions and Reactions, Search Signals – Hallwalls Art Center, NY
  • 2003 – Institution (with nbaldrich and Brendan McCall) – Bennington College, VT
  • 2003 – Fluoro, Punch, Ice – Antifreeze Film Series: Armenian Center for Experimental Art
  • 2003 – Five New Works – New Work: Bennington College, VT
  • 2003 – Ararat Projected – Armenian Center for Experimental Art, Yerevan, Armenia
  • 2003 – Public Haunting – Faculty Exhibition: Bennington College, VT

Teaching, Workshops & Lectures

2007 – present, Project in Sound Art at Cooper Union School of Art– studio class introducing aurality within individual artistic practice.

2020

  • Workshop Leader – Creative Field Recording: Practicing Knowledge Through Sound at UnionDocs
  • Bat Group Panelist (with Iain Boulton, Jo Kennedy, Mike Bullock, Cliff Hammett, Erin Ruggiano) during Reveil livestream event
  • Guest Lecture on Acoustic Ecology and Listening as a Qualitative research method, CUNY Hunter

2019

  • Panelist (with Alan Licht, Annea Lockwood, Grant Smith, Galen Joseph-Hunter) at Time and Space Limited, Hudson NY for Licht’s book Sound Art Revisited
  • Artist Lecture & Workshop – Sound Ethnographies at UnionDocs
  • Guest Lecture on Acoustic Ecology and Listening as a Qualitative research method, Masters of Community Planning, University of MD

2018

  • Artist Lecture & Workshop – CUNY Graduate Center
  • Artist Lecture & Workshop – SUNY Binghamton Cinema Dept.
  • Workshop Leader – Creative Field Recording at UnionDocs
  • Artist Lecture & Workshop – Sound Ethnographies at UnionDocs
  • Artist Lecture & Workshop – Guilded Audio Design “Extended Techniques” lecture series

2017

  • Artist Lecture & Workshop – Expanded Sound Design at UnionDocs
  • 3-part Sound Recording Workshop – Hunter College IMA program

2016

  • Multi-Screen Video Workshop – CCNY DIAP graduate program
  • Artist Lecture & Workshop – Sound Ethnographies at UnionDocs
  • Balance-Unbalance Conference – member of panel on Live Streaming sound art
  • Creative Tech Week, NYC – member of Environmental Transmission Works panel

2015 and earlier

  • Circuit Bending Lecture & Workshop – University of Maine
  • Artist Lecture & Workshop – Auburn University
  • Bennington College: Intro to Video Art – comprehensive course covering the history, theory, and techniques of video art, Electric Art (with nbaldrich) – course exploring the rise of the media culture in the 20th Century, Video Toolbox – video techniques course to accompany intro classes, Breaking the Frame – course focusing on audio and video as installation techniques, Summer Intro to Video (assisted Kate Howard) – intro for high-school students

Publications & Interviews

  • 2021: Pond Station included in July issue of The Wire magazine
  • 2021: Radio Interview about my work for NAISA’s “Making Waves”
  • 2021: Acknowledging Other Ears essay published in NEW SUNS: Listening with Artists
  • 2018: Pond Station featured in Carlo Patrão’s Botanical Rhythms: A Field Guide to Plant Music
  • 2017: Radio Interview on Resonance Extra (by Grant Smith, Acoustic Commons)
  • 2016: Pond Station featured in Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Soundprint”
  • 2016: My essay about Pond Station was included in Sounds Remote (uniformbooks)
  • 2012: Witnesses reviewed in the Italian new media magazine Neural
  • 2011: Radio Silence included in book Transmission Arts: Artists & Airwaves, PAJ Publications

Artist Assistance Work

  • Twitchers and Cheaters – Nina Katchadourian – 2017 (constructed waterproof outdoor video players mounted in trees)
  • Natural Car Alarms – Nina Katchadourian – 2016 (constructed rugged audio players to be mounted in parked cars)
  • On Hold Music Dance Party – Nina Katchadourian – 2016 (audio editing and sweetening to prepare telephone hold music for live DJ set)
  • Hello Japan exhibit – Children’s Museum of Manhattan – 2015 (Brightsign interactive programming and physical interfaces)
  • Voice Off – Judith Barry – 2014 (restoration and multi-screen video preparation)
  • Glories at AIA Center For Architecture (Whirlwind Creative) – 2014 (multi-screen video preparation)
  • Accent Elimination, Seat Assignment series, and others – 2013 – present (multi-screen video preparation, video and audio restoration)
  • just act normal – Hollie Lavenstein – 2008 (sound design)
  • Lay Down Tracks – Danielle Lombardi / Brigid McCaffrey – 2006 (sound design and mixing)
  • Please, Please, Pleased to Meet’Cha – Nina Katchadourian – 2006 & 2016 (constructed waterproof outdoor audio players mounted in trees)
  • States of Unbelonging – Lynne Sachs – 2005 (sound design)
  • Freeload & Makedown – Dennis Adams – 2004-2005 (video production, media conversion and custom printing)
  • My Neck is Thinner than a Hair – Walid Raad – 2004 & 2006 (sound design and mixing)
  • Cellar – Ben Hickernell – 2004 (location sound)
  • Investigation of a Flame – Lynne Sachs – 2001 (sound design)
  • CLEAVE – Hollie Lavenstein – 2000 (sound design and mixing)
  • Euphoria – Lee Boot, John Chester – 2000 (location sound)

Media Technology Work

  • 2003 – present
    Head of Film/Video Production Equipment at Cooper Union School of Art, NYC
    (Manage professional video and audio editing software and hardware, oversee Film/Video/Sound equipment checkout, create novel DIY equipment and software to assist students and faculty, manage 16mm film processing, cooperate in budget and planning)
  • 2001 – 2003
    Manager of Video Facilities at Bennington College, VT
    (Build and maintain FCP / Pro Tools editing facility, oversee Video/Sound equipment checkout, design presentation equipment for a 40-seat screening room and manage its day-to-day operations, cooperate in budget and planning)
  • 2001 – 2003
    Recording Studio Technician at Bennington College, VT
    (Redesign and manage the operations of a Pro Tools based 16track recording studio, cooperate in budget and planning)
  • 2000 – 2001
    Assistant Video Engineer at UMBC-TV, University of Maryland
    (Maintain broadcast equipment in professional TV studio, install head-end for campus-wide cable television system)
  • 1997 – 1999
    Digital Pre-press and Printing at Bay Imagery Inc. Baltimore, MD
    (Provide extensive troubleshooting and customer service throughout imaging workflow, hi-res scanning, retouch and image-manipulation, digital printing on electrostatic plotters, large-format inkjets, and digital C-Print systems)
  • 1999 – 2000
    Audio Consultant at Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, MD
    (Digitally restore audio for museum exhibitions, location sound-recordings for oral history interviews.)