Staalplaat Soundsystem

Geert-Jan Hobijn
Geert-Jan Hobijn © Niclas Weber

“SoundBus”, 2023
Sound installations
Autonomously driving minibuses on line A01 and one new electric bus
Bus station Monheim Mitte
Daily (A01)

Line A01: Automated bus service
Bus 1: “Traditional Acoustic”
3 compositions for 16 music boxes, car battery, dimmer, mini-computer
Bus 2: “Environmental Rhythmic”
3 compositions for 28 solenoids, siphon, metal strips, car battery, dimmer, mini-computer
Bus 3: “Solar Pimples”
Solar-powered sound art objects with solar panels, suction cups, DC motors

New electric bus, Inside: "Local Rooted"
3 compositions for instruments made by Monheim children themselves, from the "Kids Cobra Workshop" with Geert-Jan Hobijn and Achim Tang. Car battery, dimmer, mini-computer
On the following route: Start bus station – stop near transformer station (on Berliner Ring) – traffic circle record player past to bottom of Marienburgpark – water playground (info container) – Rhine jetty – Kulturwerke parking garage (only on weekends) – bus station

Sunday, June 25, Departure hourly, 1 pm to 7 pm
Thursday, June 29 and Friday, June 30, 2 pm to 6 pm
Saturday, July 1 and Sunday, July 2, 1 pm to 7 pm

In the artistic practice of Staalplaat Soundsystem, mechanical or machine sound installations are created from household appliances, consumer electronics devices or special found objects, which are combined to form a kind of machine orchestra. Contrary to technological mystifications, the focus here is on a low-tech approach. Everyday objects become actors by having their functionality mechanically processed, amplified, and made audible in the simplest possible way.

For Monheim, Hobijn worked with Radboud Mens to develop "instruments" and compositions for buses operated by the city's public transportation system as playful soundtracks for the city. Each of the three equipped minibuses had its own individual sound character and functioned like a moving experimental concert hall. Thus, sounds were presented on traditional music boxes in one of the autonomously driving minibuses, and sounds were generated via magnetic coils in another. In a third minibus, solar-powered sound art objects were attached to the inside of the windows.

"Local Rooted"

A new electric bus featured homemade instruments and objects that Hobijn developed with pupils from Otto Hahn Gymnasium as part of his "Kids Cobra Workshop."

Since 2005, Staalplaat Soundsystem has developed an instrument-building workshop for children and young people that takes into account the observation that children take pleasure in using or abusing technical devices not only in the prescribed way, but in a variety of ways.

For the "Local Rooted" project, the railroads of the city of Monheim, in cooperation with Daimler Chrysler, are providing a zero-emission electric-powered public bus, which, like the autonomously driving buses of line A01, shows what the future of local public transport could look like.


In 1982 Geert-Jan Hobijn founded staalplaat. This evolved into his organization Staalplaat Soundsystem in 2000, through which Hobijn collaborates with others to exhibit sound installations in public spaces - and often in confrontation with urban traffic systems.

Staalplaat Soundsystem has exhibited at the Avanto Festival, Helsinki at Sonar/Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, Transmediale Berlin, Museum Weserburg in Bremen, Steirischer Herbst in Graz, ZKM in Karlsruhe or Palais de Tokyo in Paris, among others. Hobijn received international attention in 2004 for his floating vacuum cleaner orchestra “Floating Islands,“ which was installed in the Spree River for the opening of the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, designed by Rem Koolhaas.

Radboud Mens is a sound artist who began building noise machines in 1988. He builds his own acoustic instruments and sound installations, such as bass recorders, long-string installations, drone machines, and guitars played with transducers. These instruments and installations are used in live concerts and the recordings are used in compositions.

Artist Gijs Gieskes builds idiosyncratic electronic devices that function and act in ways that are often surprising, sometimes funny, and always awkward from a pragmatic point of view. Staalplaat Soundsystem feels connected to him because of his individualistic, unconventional and transparent approach to technology.

Artist website

Geert-Jan Hobijn in one of the prepared autonomous minibuses in Monheim am Rhein
Geert-Jan Hobijn in one of the prepared autonomous minibuses in Monheim am Rhein © Niclas Weber