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Virtual Private Broadcast

by Conflux Coldwell

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Token 04:16
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Clouds 06:28
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Remote Close 04:46

about

“Coldwell goes beyond the dominant perception of hauntology to expose subtle layers below.” Wire Magazine

This is a mini album I’ve been sat on for a while. It was recorded over three all-night sessions in the summer of 2018, but has sat on hard drives ever since. As a project that explores digitally mediated isolation and online loneliness, a time of global pandemics and endless Zoom meetings, seems the right one to finally release it. Where AM (2017) investigated the lo-fi aesthetics of short wave radio, Virtual Private Broadcast does the same for the webcam.

I was particularly interested in forgotten and unmanned cameras, dutifully broadcasting their grainy images of nothing in particular, often to nobody at all, across the digital ether.

The source for all my sampled sounds was a website called Shodan, a search engine for the internet of things. The site allows you to search and access all the world’s unsecured cameras. It says it does this to raise awareness of security issues, but seems more like an exercise in bizarre voyeurism.

Alongside weather cams and traffic surveillance footage, private CCTV feeds of people’s front doors and garages, and weird flickering blank screens left in the dark, you come across countless sex shows and people asleep in their bedrooms. Adding to the creepiness and alienation of Shodan's view are the sound streams, spectralised beyond all recognition by shit microphones and poor bandwidth. Many of the tracks were created by turning up the gain on feeds from empty rooms, trying to listen for clues in the garbled noise floor - a process not dissimilar to ghost hunting (see EVP). Out of context these feeds seemed disconnected and isolating, yet created by communication technologies supposedly designed to help bring people together.

It’s not all black and white. Virtual Private Broadcast uses this cold digital world for its soundscapes but also points towards a warmth hidden between the pixels, the longing for human connection that these networks symbolise, even if they don’t deliver.

You Can Watch Me Sleeping | Empty Rooms video:

vimeo.com/409601950

credits

released April 20, 2020

All music and video by Michael C Coldwell

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all rights reserved

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about

Conflux Coldwell Leeds, UK

Michael "Conflux" Coldwell is a musician and artist from Leeds UK.

He is part of the Urban Exploration collective and works at the University of Leeds, where he conducts research into the hauntology of media.

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