Golden Shield Music

  • Marco Donnarumma - Golden Shield Music 2009
  • Marco Donnarumma - Golden Shield Music 2009

Golden Shield Music (Marco Donnarumma, 2009) is a generative composition for eight audio channels that sits somewhere between and sound art originally created for the Zeppelin 2009 exhibition at the Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture.
The work is inspired by the Golden Shield Project, sometimes referred to as the ‘Great Firewall of China’.
According to Wikipedia it is a censorship and surveillance project operated by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) division of the Communist government of China. The project started in 1998 and began operations in November of 2003.
It involves the massive use of web technologies such as IP (Internet Protocol address, a computer’s network address) blocking, DNS filtering and redirection, URL filtering, Packet filtering, Connection reset) to censor specific contents – mostly, but not only, political or historical subjects – through web search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Msn.

This same technology has been semantically displaced and re-used by the author to create a generative piece of music which doesn’t focus on the structure or aesthetic of the composition, but simply makes a free, creative use of a technology ideated to subtly constrain the freedom of the Internet as a global Network.

Google had recently bypassed the Golden Shield, thus users landing on only see a fake image representing the google search box, but they are soon automatically redirected to uncensored Google Hong Kong at

Further information can be viewed at:

Technical informations

Golden Shield Music collects the twelve website’s IP that are most screened by the Golden Shield.
Therefore IP numbers are listed in a text file which feeds an automated MIDI polyphonic synthesizer. The latter translates each IP in a single note formed by 4 voices with a specific velocity.
Resulting notes are ordered by the amount of pages the Golden Shield obscured for each IP address: the website’s IP obtaining the highest page result on becomes the first note of the score and the others follow in decreasing order.
Data organizes the musical notation, establishing an abstract relationship between Internet information and musical algorithms which sounds harmonious and “handcrafted”.

Below you can listen to a stereo version of the piece.
Golden Shield Music by Marco Donnarumma

Project Keywords

Golden shield, china, public security, mps, internet, internet protocol address, censorship, blacklist, search engines, google, yahoo, msn, surveillance; generative, indeterministic notation, self-composing score; multi-channel, surround, polyphonic, algorhithmic, MIDI, pure data.

Selected exhibitions and presentations

  • Piksel Festival, Studio USF, Bergen, Norway, November, 2010
  • Screengrab New Media Art Award, eMerge Gallery, Townsville, Australia, October 2010
  • Pikslaverk, Pixelache Network, Hafnarhúsið Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland, May 2010
  • Prosume Conduce, Pure Data Forum, Domagkateliers, Halle50, Munich, Germany, April 2010
  • Zeppelin, Barcelona Centre for Contemporary Culture, Spain, December 2009


  • Underwire |, ‘Golden Shield Music Turns Web Censorship Into Art’, 25th November, 2010
    View on-line
  •, ‘What Does Censorship Sound Like?’, 25th November, 2010
    View on-line
  • We Make Money Not Art, ‘Piksel fest – Golden Shield Music’, 23rd November, 2010
    View on-line
  • Rhizome, ‘Golden Shield Music (2009) – Marco Donnarumma’, 21st June, 2010
    View on-line

Upcoming exhibitions are listed on the calendar page.