SoundCloud Gazing: website-specific music

performance & exhibition by John-Robin Bold

18 August 2022 from 19:00  – 00:00



About the event

/rosa is pleased to open John-Robin Bold's exhibit "website-specific music, 20XX" with a live performance by the artist on Thursday, 18 August at 7 pm.

The most influential musicians of today are called Spotify, SoundCloud, Universal, Ableton, Apple and so on. Mono- polising the digital tools for music making, distributing and consuming, these platforms uproot, circulate and categori- se music to their benefit. SoundCloud holds the reputation of being a rather inde- pendent platform and one of the most important homes for subcultural genres. However, no streaming portal can serve as a neutral stage. My approach is to utilise Sound- Cloud’s characteristics as artistic elements – to subvert their original purpose, to dissect them, and to enable a perspective which makes the digital framework come alive. Music streaming platforms have drastically re-shaped our listening behaviour over the last 15 years. website-specific music presents three pieces specifically made for Sound- Cloud to explore how its functions subconsciously influen- ce the way we experience music.

Track When playing music on SoundCloud, it is a common habit to look at the volume envelope (Hüllkurve) and anticipate the music’s further development. Its loudness and there- fore climaxes, fade-outs, pauses and build-ups are visuali- sed by 273.5 orange-turning bars. Conversely, I composed the sound to give the envelope a specific shape. Assigning each bar the length of 1s, Track has an overall duration of 4’33 min and half a second. With frequencies beyond the auditory threshold and sounds too short for the website to detect, Track enters into a dialogue with the expectations of listening.

Playlist The minimum length of a functional sound file on Sound- Cloud is around 200ms. Playlist aligns numerous such short sounds consecutively. Due to these liminal durati- ons, SoundCloud glitches often and buffering times vary dependent on the quality of the internet connection. As a result of this, rhythm and tempo of Playlist are decided by the internet speed. I’ve given each of the short tracks a different image and title that change at the same pace, therefore turning all elements of the playlist into an intermedia experience of cut-up time.

Stream Stream consists of more than 20 profiles which follow each other, share similar hashtags and like each other’s tracks, thereby forming an opaque and open ended network. The user browses through their over 100 tracks like an open form composition. Once a track is played, the autoplay function furthermore leads the listener from track to track and profile to profile by itself. Thus, Stream intervenes in the interactivity/interpassivity of the everyday experience of clicking through music online.

About the Artist

John-Robin Bold is a composer of electronic music, a live performer, and a sound and media artist. His work inquires about the possibility of artistic experiences in a time of total capitalisation, crisis and cynicism. Seeking to overturn established modes of consumption, he employs media and presentation formats in an unusual and self-reflecting manner. John-Robin Bold’s works have been released on Mille Plateaux, and presented at Ars Electronica, Golden Pudel, ZKM and Volksbühne.