Golden Shield Music Turns Web Censorship Into Art
By Olivia Solon, Wired UK
Golden Shield Music is an art project that uses web censorship technology to compose a generative piece of music.
Created by Italian artist Marco Donnarumma, the project aims to highlight the issue of internet censorship, particularly in China. The piece takes its name from the name China has given to its censorship program, the Golden Shield Project, more colloquially known as the “Great Firewall of China.”
To create the music, Donnarumma first sifted through dozens of papers to find a list of websites blacklisted by China. He selected the IP addresses of the 12 websites that are most frequently screened out by the Chinese censor.
The IP numbers are listed in a text file which is turned into MIDI data and fed into a polyphonic synthesizer.The IP addresses are translated into notes formed by several voices, and then ordered by the amount of pages the Great Firewall obscures for each IP address — the more pages that are censored, the closer to the start of the composition they come.
You can listen to Golden Shield Music here.
China’s web censorship program launched in 1998 and involves the large-scale use of web technologies — such as IP blocking, DNS filtering and redirection, URL filtering and connection resetting — to censor specific topics, mostly relating to China’s politics and history.
According to We Make Money Not Art, in a talk at electronic art event Piksel, Donnarumma was keen to point out that censorship is not unique to China and that countries including Australia, Finland, the United Kingdom and Italy have all made attempts to censor online content.
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