Sunday, December 23, 2018

Playing by Empathy: Incorporation of Musical Instruments into the Body Schema

For a tennis player, the racket becomes part of his or her body, and movements of it rapidly become as unconscious as to move an arm. Some research shows that the tools which we use are mapped inside our brains as though these were part of us, and this seems logical. Once we wear clothes, for example, these quickly become ignored by us and considered to be part of us, a new skin.

I realised that, when playing the piano, this also occurs; that I feel that the instrument is part of me and that I merely speak my feelings and thoughts with its voice, in the same way that I use my real voice and expressions, and in the same way that I'm using these words now. This discovery led to me to a new method of learning to play instruments and a new composition method too.

The essence of this method is empathy with the instrument. It's something that most musicians have anyway, and many great musicians talk of a love of a particular instrument, or piano stool, or outfit. These all become components of the artist's body. Once this is understood, learning to play an instrument is not a matter of technical exercises, but a physical therapy, like a patient with paralysis learning to move a damaged limb, or a child learning to walk.

What one calls the ability to play is not the mastery of technique, but an understanding of the full gamut of the instrument's capabilities, and the nerve control to express that gamut. As a player, your goal is to make the instrument move all of its parts, sounding each possible note with each possible timbre.

So to learn using this method, one must embrace and love the instrument totally, feeling it as though it were an extension of your body. To play is not to use a tool, but to speak with a new voice that becomes part of your body. To play is as simple as to feel and to express your feelings, shout or whisper them with this new voice. The mastery of playing is not technical, but as physical as a growth of connection to this new limb.

All of this means that there is no such thing as being able to play or not being able to play an instrument, but that everything is a gradient of ability. It also implies that most of the learning will take place between the instrument and player alone, and that a third presence, a teacher, might be disruptive. The theory here is that empathy works most powerfully between two people, and the emotions of a third presence will disrupt on some level. If so, then solo pupil and solo teacher, followed by solo pupil and solo instrument might be more effective as a teaching method that having the instrument present with pupil and teacher. As evidence of this, it seems to be a common trait that expert instrumentalists spend the majority of their training alone with the instrument, seeing their teacher for shorter periods.

Like speaking or writing, there is art in this expression, but this opens up a new way to compose: an instantaneous transliteration of feelings by simply playing. This is what is called improvising, but that word often has an element of sketch or light-weight quality to it. Players who improvise or 'jam' are not thought of as composing, except perhaps by a traditional surrealist. Yet, this 'Body Schema' theory of music performance suddenly makes live playing as important, certainly more authentic, as any detailed study or practised composition.

Of course, like any speech that is spontaneously spoken, it doesn't mean that every creation is a great work, but a great work perhaps works on many levels. Art is about emotional communication; it's a dialogue, and each performance is unique because each circumstance is unique. By using the instrument as a body extension, this gives the artist the power to change the message for each circumstance, so perhaps a live performance can be great in a way that a recording cannot. A composer that creates in this way when there is no audience present, is broadcasting feelings to an invisible audience.

I will end with a romantic notion, that perhaps a deaf or dumb performer would seek to speak more powerfully, and so perhaps a musician with no voice except for his or her instrument, is destined to speak the most beautiful words.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Life as an Information Storage System

How do you define what is alive and what is not alive? Why is a planet full of life is different from a planet without life? I think that the answers are about order and chaos, and life sides with order.

Life is fundamentally a system of information organisation and storage. A living person is a closed system of information storage and utilisation, used to bring order to a disordered system. To die is to terminally lose information cohesion, liberating this to the next shell domain of information, for example, civilisation, which itself is more ordered than nature, which we could define as a life bearing but human-free domain, which is more ordered than lifeless nature, such as a planet without life.

The key definition of life is an information storage and processing entity with the ability to increase the order of a disordered system.

This definition of life and death has several implications.

On the surface, it removes the contemporary definitions of the need to metabolise or replicate, but on further analysis, this can still apply: for example a filing cabinet can store information but does not order its surroundings, and so could not be considered alive. Reproduction could be seen as an extension of the utility to order the universe, and is thus compatible with this definition. Taking in food helps maintain the informational integrity of the body vs. not taking food.

Plants and bacteria store and pass on information, and can order their environment, but humans can order a system more effectively.

Machines which can self-order the world should be considered alive. At time of writing, machines are usually tools for humans, but computers can self-order small pockets of information: for example ordering computer files. Small robots could order cubes upon a table, or mow a lawn. A ruler, as a converse example, cannot; despite aiding humans to order things, making a ruler a tool rather than alive.

We have varying control over what we are capable of ordering, and this defines how alive we are. Humans can almost control all things, as a species, and almost all humans have some influence over the rest of the species. It is perhaps this that makes humans the paragon of living things.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Blue Carpet (or The Hotel Carpet Blues)

I'm working in music at the moment, assembling a new album of experimental works, the best of the things I've created for my old radio show, ArtsLab, and some things I've made for ArtSwarm. I'm remaking (or at least touching up) almost all of the tracks. There are a few that won't make it onto the album because I don't think they are good enough, or were simply one-off recordings that were put together without keeping any of the source material. I'm putting some on SoundCloud, and here is one called "Blue Carpet", or the Hotel Carpet Blues. It was a song about carpets. The comedy is unpinned by reality and metaphor. This is the magic of creativity.

Blue Carpet (or The Hotel Carpet Blues)

I'm threadbare, pulled thin
trodden like the mud on my skin
Walked on and ignored
and covered in dust
my yellowing fibres resembling rust

I'm flaky, snaky, falling apart
the weave on my soul chokes the wool in my heart
I'm holding together as dust
My skin is a colourless crust

I'm a hotel carpet, in a cheap Parisian backstreet
I'm choking on the nothing and the cigarette friends that I meet
well, they meet me,
they fall on my face and get crushed in
its the closest to love I get these days

I'm a hotel carpet, yellowy beigey putrid
Yes why not drag your rotten luggage over me

Walked on and ignored
covered in rust
my yellowing fibres resembling dust


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Infinite Beam Problem

I was struck by a simple thought yesterday that has profound implications.

I shine a laser beam up in my house. It hits the ceiling and the light is scattered, absorbed for later gentle scattering, and reflected back to my eyes. The existence of the beam is validated and the loss of the energy from the laser is equated with the energy perceived by my eyes and otherwise in the room and universe.

I shine a laser beam up in a cathedral. The beam travels further with the same result. I go outside and shine the beam up at the moon. The beam hits the surface of the moon and the same effects occur.

I shine a laser up into deep space. The beam might hit a star or dust cloud or planet, but what if the beam misses those things and keeps travelling to the end of the universe? In that case the beam would never hit anything, and so reflect nothing. The beam would not be detected by the universe, the existence of the beam would not be validated except by the loss of energy from the laser, which could only equate to a permanent net energy loss from the universe.

This must happen with the light from stars all of the time. What is wrong here?

If we were that tip of the beam, flying away with instant time and insight, what would we feel like, moving for infinite time? Could we exist as this temporally and spatially infinite object?

Let us explore some solutions.

1. The beam continues to travel for a long time, waiting until an inevitable day when it impacts something and validates the existence of the beam, settling the energy imbalance debt. The downside with this hypothesis is that a beam shining out at the edge of the universe is unlikely to ever impact anything.

2. The beam bends back towards the universe and then collides with an object. This would equate to a closed universe. This would be a neat solution to the problem. Does this match the current universe? Is there any observational evidence of our universe to support this?

3. A 'quantum' option. The beam continues for infinity but does not exist. The firing of the beam can be validated by the loss of energy in the laser emitter but this is balanced by an energy gain in all of the universe on average, a radiating but non-localised field which contains the energy. This spreads in all directions equally.

If the beam hits a distant object, like my ceiling, the field will instantly vanish, coalesced into the beam alone. How would this coalescence occur at longer ranges, because it seems that the information about the beam hitting the ceiling is instantly transmitted from the ceiling to all points of the field, ordering the field to collapse and jump to the ceiling.

If the beam continues forever into distant space, this field must itself impact into objects and at some point return its energy because if not, it would be the same as not existing, so the field itself must be able to liberate energy too.

4. Perhaps our concept of a laser of a perfectly straight beam is flawed. Over a short distance this is true, but as ranges grow, the scattering effect of a laser grows, until, at the scales of an infinite universe it behaves more like a point light, shining in all directions rather than a straight beam, so perhaps our problem does not exist. This does not solve the problem however, for like the light of a distant star, at least some component of the beam could still head out towards the endless boundary of the universe, and be lost.

5. Even when flying away, the beam constitutes part of the universe and so is not lost, even if it remains forever undetectable. Its energy remains in the universe, but it can never interact with anything and so is useless. The information about it is permanently lost. In this case, the net energy in the universe would remain equal but the net information would decrease over time.

This rate of this loss could be calculated, as the light shone from the outer edge of a rim of stars at the boundaries of the universe would be lost, and the energy shone into the universe would not, although, like playing Snooker on a boundless table, all of the information would be lost at some point.

This would seem to be a logical validation of the concept of entropy, but it also has problems. If the information about the existence of something is permanently lost, is this not the same as its energy being permanently lost, because it is the same as the thing itself being permanently lost?

Perhaps so, and perhaps then the net energy in the universe must decrease too. Net existence must decrease over time. We are all born and we all die. It seems reasonable that this applies to the universe itself, however much we might hope for something infinite or immortal.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Conscious and the Unconscious Mind

This is an edited extract from my book 21st Century Surrealism, a book which examines lots of areas of creativity, from the problems artists can face to things relating to surrealism such as the unconscious and the philosophy of mind.

When thinking, we are only aware of a tiny fragment of thought at once; one thing, like a word on a page in a sentence. We have a memory of the sentence so far, and so can discern something about the information flow of our minds, and we might be preparing on some level for the up-and-coming words. In another part of our heads we have a sense of free thought, a feeling that we can dart to a new sentence if desired.

In a busy day we have several mental books to hand, several books of thoughts within reach, at our mental fingertips. We can grab these books at will, and turn our thinking towards them.

Most of the writing, filing, and sorting of the books in our minds happens beyond our conscious awareness, as though an invisible librarian is constantly ordering the vast catalogue of our knowledge. If you consider that you can read one word of one sentence each day; this fleeting thing we call conscious thinking, and then consider all of what you actually know, then it becomes obvious that the great majority of the ordering process; to write, to file, and store that vast library of our knowledge, must happen in the shadowed background of our minds.

This filing process takes place constantly; well, perhaps it does, it is beyond our awareness, so by definition we cannot ever tell. At the very least, every memory must be recorded, that's what memory means. Every recollection of a memory is recorded too; we don't remember what we don't recall. Do unrecalled memories exist? Yes, but only if and when we recall them. We can't say that they certainly exist when we don't recall them; in that circumstance they are identical to not being there at all. This principle of bringing into existence by observation seems to reflect a quantum-mechanical principle that something exists to the extent it is perceived.

It is clear that our experience of being conscious involves a sense of our own thoughts and memories, not just the sensory experiences of the outside world.

Consider every sense you have; sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste, and how active each sense is at each minute of the day, and how many memories of each sense must be created. It is only then that you can consider the enormity of the work that the human brain must complete, and all without your tiny fragment of experience of the now that we call consciousness.

The word 'unconscious' has been used over and over again, and even in today's English it can refer to people who look asleep, or are sedated, as well as thoughts that we are not aware of. Here, I define it as those thoughts, those automatic and indirectable actions of the invisible librarian.

If unconscious thoughts are indirectable and not subject to our control, are they creative? Isn't creativity the ability to assess and choose something consciously?

There are degrees of awareness and freedom to control. Is control necessary for creativity? Perhaps one of the main benefits of unconscious creation is that is it not directly controlled, although we can't tell if unconscious thoughts are controlled or not, because, well, they are unconscious, and beyond the gaze of our mental senses. Can we have free will without awareness of it?

No. Free will is the sensation and feeling of being in control, and little else. The river of our thoughts flows. If we are unable to see the river and have no awareness of any control over its direction, then the point seems moot. The path of our unconscious thoughts surely flows in some direction, but if we are not aware of that direction, then any secret ways in which we are changing its path are, perhaps, unimportant; but only perhaps. We might have some influence over an unseen process, but merely be unable to predict or determine any outcome. This might be like a blind man prodding the driver of a coach and horses. He might be able to influence the journey, but know little else about it.

Control or intelligence aren't always useful for creativity, and perhaps the element of chance, or the very lack of willpower, is what is beneficial to the artist. A machine can be creative in this way, even an object with no intelligence at all. Drop a glass cup; its fragments form a pattern. Some curatorial control is necessary to filter what is a meaningful pattern, and what is not, but the cup itself constituted an important new source of information.

Apart from its capacity for a spontaneity untrammelled by will, the unconscious can be more inventive than our conscious minds because it has access to a vast panoply of source information, far larger than the surface pages that our daily minds flick though. There are levels to our thoughts, with immediate thoughts and memories occupying our immediate times, those things which skim lightly over the hot surface of our boiling star minds. Then there are slightly more distant thoughts that take slightly longer to reach, then more distant thoughts and memories, and more, deeper and deeper. The deep thoughts are too far away for us to think with fast enough to be of daily use.

Perhaps what we know as conscious awareness and control is simply a matter of access speed. If so, then those with more agile brains would literally be more conscious; they would have direct, fast access to more knowledge.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

ArtsLab Subjects

As a reference guide, I thought I'd list the complete subjects for my RedShift Radio programme, ArtsLab

Series 2

0 Experimentation (26 October 2016)
1 New
2 Old
3 Leaves
4 Zodiac
5 Lines
6 The Sun
7 Cycles of Time
8 Birth
9 Blue
10 Mountains
11 Words
12 Dinosaurs
13 Love
14 Gateways
15 Ancestors
16 The Moon
17 Sweden
18 Mystery
19 Furniture
20 Chemistry
21 Descendants
22 Tuesday
23 Space
24 Insects
25 The Letter D
26 Borders
27 Trees
28 Crystals
29 Cars
30 God
31 Computers
32 Birds
33 The Dark Ages
34 Medicine
35 Africa
36 Codes
37 Mirrors
38 Film Noir
39 Tokyo
40 Underground
41 Fruit
42 Modern Philosophers
43 Memory
44 Chess
45 Money
46 Snow
47 Carpets
48 Time
49 Police

50 ArtsLab: The Opera: I, Leviathan Part 1
51 ArtsLab: The Opera: I, Leviathan Part 2

Series 3

1 Open Theme (8 January 2018)
2 War
3 Soil
4 Dawn
5 Spirals
6 The Planet Mars
7 Fish
8 Hunger
9 Australia
10 Pink
11 The Number Six
12 Endings & Beginnings (simultaneous broadcast with the first ArtSwarm)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


In the absence of others, we must talk to different parts of our self to exist. Existence is dependent on detection, communication. An object isolated from the universe cannot exist, who could detect it? Only component entities can exist independently. Perhaps, when alone, this self communication spirals down, losing integrity, security, accuracy, and so over time we fade into nothingness.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Art Swarm

Well, my new video show went live last week, ArtSwarm, which is the logical continuation of the ArtsLab radio show I've been doing at RedShift Radio for past few years (as regular blog readers would have noticed!)

Producing a radio show for the past two years has been a really interesting experience, and great fun. The key skill for working on the radio is probably multi-tasking. I never really assumed that anyone was listening. The figures were small, typically under 10. I remain amazed at how my radio peers acted as though they were broadcasting to the nation or the world, rather than to a small room of (mostly) people that they knew anyway, or often broadcasting to nobody at all. Most listeners listened later, streaming the show at their leisure, which is the current trend in media. There is something to be said for live broadcasting, it certainly is more edgy and exciting than pre-recording, where things can be edited. The training of presenting a live show is very good for confidence because of this; it stops you worrying about making mistakes, and gives you the freedom to just do it. This is why successful presenters of all sorts often start in radio; it's the paragon of media training.

As most people listen later, I thought it would be good to aim for that, and to boost inclusivity wanted to make something that would allow people to share things, so the format for the second year of ArtsLab was to simply broadcast things that people have made. It became a sort of tutorial on how to create things in a hurry. Lots of the results were bizarre, often rough and ready, but, wow, often inventive and inspiring and pushing boundaries. The things I've heard on ArtsLab have certainly crept into my music, and my last album Cycles & Shadows, which was largely piano with spoken word, is so different from my former music due to this. The album I'm working on now will continue this trend into avant-garde pop, and a further step away from the Jarre and computer-game sound that dominated my earlier years.

All good things come from contrast and opposites and my rejection of the automated for the human is a great source of creative energy for me; my painting itself was a rejection of computer graphics.

Anyway, ArtSwarm, conversely, embraces video. It seems a logical step up to create an inclusive video show; a show where people make things to a theme each fortnight, then we all see what everyone has done. When I started painting, this very format made me paint. It was great training, and I'm sure that many good and exciting videos will get made due to ArtSwarm, the combination of pressure due to time, the guidance of a theme, but also, freedom without censorship (well, no quality judgements, it merely has to be YouTube legal).

I had hoped that ArtSwarm would be less work than ArtsLab to produce, which was about 2 days per week. Being fortnightly, it should be (and I'll save the 4 mile walk there and back - but that was as much a health benefit as a chore).

Ramble over. Onward to great things! Show number two is coming soooon. Here is the ArtSwarm YouTube channel:

Monday, March 26, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.12: Endings & Beginnings

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 12: Endings & Beginnings
Broadcast Monday 26 March 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.
This was the final ArtsLab programme.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Mark Sheeky, Beginnings
Deborah Edgeley, Glimpse
Claire Bassi, Winter Campaign/Speak and Spell
Lavinia Murray, Leviathanarama
Steven Goodwin, Great Beginnings
Andrew Williams, Ouroborus
Michael Murray, John Paston Writes Home
Mark Sheeky, Trees Die To Become Pencils
Andrew Williams, Endings and Beginnings
Trixi Field, The Meres: Night Hunters
Scott Walker, Light
Rebecca Cherrington, New Year
The Shaggs, That Little Sports Car
Peggy Zeitlin, Spin Spider Spin
Mark Sheeky, Endings
Richard Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra

All past ArtsLab programmes can be listened to here:

You can listen live during the broadcast on:

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Thoughts on Superdeterminism

A bit of a ramble for my own interest, but I thought I'd blog it.

The only component necessary for free will is ignorance of the future. Is it possible to have a superdeterministic universe and have retain this?

Knowledge of the future seems to be a spiral that could lead to eternal knowledge, but knowledge of what and by whom? To know something is to duplicate its information, yet an exact duplicate, perhaps half of the universe duplicated by the other half, would perhaps not contain knowledge. Instead, it seems that one half chases the other, attempting duplication, racing toward symmetry, yet never attaining it because perfect symmetry contains nothing new. Information is contained within the differences between things; the more powerful the information, the greater the contrast. Errors create drama. The greater the error, the greater the drama and the most stark the difference between what is known and what is unknown. Ignorance is perhaps a vital part of existence, and if so, the most profound truths in science must be unknowable.

At what speed is information gained? At light speed, or a finite speed of maximum limit, at least. Instant knowledge cannot be permitted because a degree of ignorance and inaccuracy are necessary. Perhaps the early universe strove for perfect accuracy, but once the size became impossible to traverse 'instantly' due to distance, errors became inevitable, resulting in asymmetry and thus information.

Can information exist as a duo of perfect symmetry? Not between them. They might contain form, but what third party could observe this? A third party that attempts knowledge, which is therefore partial duplication of form.

If a system should evolve into this perfect symmetry, could it escape? No, and so it is probably not possible that a system could evolve into perfect symmetry. Was the instant of the start of the universe a period of perfect symmetry? If so, that infinite point would not be attainable, so no. Even on the tiniest possible scales, there must be inherent imperfection.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Structures for 3D Audio

I've looked again at upgrading my sound software Prometheus to support surround sound, or 5.1 which is the prevalent option for multi-channel audio, replacing the quadrophonic experiments of the 1970s. The whole situation about this sort of sound is still in flux and not well designed, despite digital technology largely resolving many of the technical problems that made analogue quadrophonic difficult. 5.1 was developed for a cinema and has proven to be popular primarily because of its native support on DVD. This uses 4 audio speakers plus 1 central speaker for dialogue, and a sub-woofer (which is the 'point 1' in the name).

This might suit a cinema, but is a poor choice for music. The sound remains two dimensional, being on one plane. Also, why have one speaker for dialogue, why not more? Or combine the dialogue with the music? Most song music has an inherent mix of speech and music, the balancing between vocals and music is part of the art. For music, a more universal standard would be useful, so I've explored some options to integrate into software.

Current music audio is stereo, left and right. Quadrophonic sound is (or was) normally made from four speakers placed at the corners of the sound area, but this seems irrational given that most conventional music is stereo already, and so front and rear sound would instantly interfere with left and right. It would make the most logical sense to divide the space axially; left and right (LR), front and back (FB), up and down (UD) with six speakers placed in those locations.

It is notably rare for speakers to feature below the listener, under the floor. The Microsoft WAV specification for multichannel audio, at a pinch, includes options in its WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE structure for a front speaker (SPEAKER_FRONT_CENTER), left and right (SPEAKER_SIDE_LEFT and RIGHT), rear (SPEAKER_BACK_CENTER), and up (SPEAKER_TOP_CENTER), but nothing for speakers below the listener. The structure seems to have been developed based on current audio usage rather than have any rational structure. There is, for example, support for back top left and front top left speakers, yet not plain top left or top right. There is no support for speakers below the listener, odd allocations such as a "FRONT_LEFT_OF_CENTER" option, and a single low frequency channel somewhere in the middle of the structure. Bass sounds are harder to locate spatially, so presumably these are assumed to be spatially ubiquitous, or unimportant.

It would be more logical to store data in 6 tracks for 3 dimensions: Left L, Right R, Front F, Back B, Up U, Down D. Sound could be recalculated for different speaker arrangements, such as 50% left, 50% front for a traditional quadrophonic placement speaker, or differently for the 'recommended' placement for a 5.1 music system.

Perhaps dialogue or additional layers would be desirable; in cinema or television, for example, where a separate volume control for background music, dialogue, and sound effects could be an option. These could be stored in a different dimension; a new 6-track layer, so for a 3 layer system we might include speech, music, and sound effects, creating 18 audio tracks.

It's interesting to note that, according to Wikipedia, the SACD format supports 6 channels, which would suit a 3D spatial format. A 7.1 sound card could play the audio back with current technology. Monitoring the audio would require six speakers and a specially designed studio, with a speaker in the floor and ceiling. Headphones could be used with contemporary virtual reality technology to detect the exact orientation of the listener's head.

With the growth of virtual reality and immersive environments, new ways of storing multi-dimensional audio will be needed. The current 2D structures are simply not adequate for a 3D environment, and the most efficient system is to use 3 axis for 3 dimensions, and thus 6 channel audio.


I propose an audio data structure that interleaves 6 channels as such; left, right, front, back, top, bottom.
For additional dimensions, a specifier would be needed on the content type; music, dialogue, sound effects, and others (ambient sound, other additional dimensions).
New virtual reality audio systems should be designed for 6 channels, with detection of the correct head orientation of the listener.

ArtsLab S3 Ep.10: Pink

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 10: Pink
Broadcast Monday 12 March 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Lavinia Murray, In The Pink
Deborah Edgeley, Pink-R-Us
Andrew Williams, Raw Chicken
Lavinia Murray, Pinky Goes Awol
Mark Sheeky, My Pinkness
Andrew Williams, Bubblegum Pop
Lavinia Murray, Pinkoscope
Mark Sheeky, Space Beeps
Mark Sheeky, Anthem For Pink Noise
Andrew Williams, Pig Floyd
Rebecca Cherrington, Pink
Mark Sheeky, Pinkendrome
Lavinia Murray, Pink Passed Over

All past ArtsLab programmes can be listened to here:

You can listen live during the broadcast on:

Monday, March 19, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.11: The Number Six

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 11: The Number Six
Broadcast Monday 19 March 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.
Special guest Deborah Edgeley.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Andrew Williams, Things That Are Six
Michael Murray, 6 Is A Tadpole's Comma
Mark Sheeky, Six
The Piggleswick Folk, The Teddy Bear's Picnic
Andrew Williams, Six Times Six
Deborah Edgeley, Quick Get Your Lows Before They Run Out
Lavinia Murray, Xis
Deborah Edgeley, Black Duchess
Mark Sheeky, Variations Of The Prisoner
Rebecca Cherrington, Six
Lavinia Murray, SIX OF THE BEAST
Andrew Williams, Number Of The Beast
Ken Dodd, Happiness (Sad Version)

All past ArtsLab programmes can be listened to here:

You can listen live during the broadcast on:

Monday, March 05, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.9: Australia

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 9: Australia
Broadcast Monday 5 March 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Lavinia Murray, InterAliaAustRalia
Andrew Williams, Didgeridoodah
Deborah Edgeley, Dreamtime
Lavinia Murray, Australia Unvisited
Mark Sheeky, Sonus
Andrew Williams, Antipodean Vibrations
Claire Bassi, Change of Heart
Lavinia Murray, Teaching Matilda to Waltz
Andrew Williams, Waltzing Matilda
Mark Sheeky, The Darker Matilda
Rebecca Cherrington, Australia
Mark Sheeky, Let's Take A Walk In The Desert, Wouldn't That Be Fun, That's What They Said
Lavinia Murray, Echolocating Australia

All past ArtsLab programmes can be listened to here:

You can listen live during the broadcast on:

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Only Four More ArtsLabs

For anyone reading this blog, you might notice that it's become a vast archive of my weekly ArtsLab programmes for RedShift Radio. In four weeks I'll be leaving RedShift, and so this will become more of a normal blog, that is lots of rare and random notes on things.

My show will continue, but on YouTube as a video show called ArtSwarm. I think video is the best mass medium for the Internet at the moment, and the new show will be the same format, a mix of any new art; audio, poems, videos, images, anything that artists anywhere/everywhere create and send me each episode to include in the programme.

I'm creating a second separate blog just for ArtSwarm, which will archive those episodes (it's so useful to have that record) and mention other things related to it. If you are interested in it, then do follow that blog, which is at

The show will go out live on a new channel on YouTube each Friday at 8pm London time. You can subscribe to the channel here.

Monday, February 26, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.8: Hunger

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 8: Hunger
Broadcast Monday 26 February 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.
Special guest Andrew Bassey.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Lavinia Murray, Drymouth
Deborah Edgeley, Pounds For The People
Mark Sheeky, In The Gravy Yard
Stephen Pennell, Hunger
Theme from Schindler's List, Northamptonshire Orchestral Winds feat. Jemima Clarke
Andrew Williams, Hungry Wolf Sonata
Summertime, Northamptonshire Orchestral Winds feat. Margaret Ferguson
Scherzerpolka, Northamptonshire Orchestral Winds
Mark Sheeky, Knut
Lavinia Murray, I Eat Diet Pills
Rebecca Cherrington, Hunger
Andrew Williams, The Hungry Hunter

All past ArtsLab programmes can be listened to here:

You can listen live during the broadcast on:

Monday, February 19, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.7: Fish

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 7: Fish
Broadcast Monday 19 February 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Andrew Williams, Herring Waltz
Stephen Pennell, Gunns Pool
Jimmy Spaceman, ERIFNOMI
Kit Brown, Not Before Or After
Lavinia Murray, The Verruca Reef
Mark Sheeky, Population Prognosis
Andrew Williams, Fish Scales
Mark Sheeky, Elimia Lachrymosa
Rebecca Cherrington, Fish
Lavinia Murray, A Very Wet Venice
Andrew Williams, Fish Census
Jimmy Spaceman, I Like It When It Rains

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Monday, February 12, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.6: The Planet Mars

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 6: The Planet Mars
Broadcast Monday 12 February 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.
Special guest Victoria Abigail Rebekah Boulter.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Claire Bassi, Mars Awaits
Andrew Williams, Martian Dawn
Lavinia Murray, Mars's Publicity Stunt
Stephen Pennell, Men Are From Mars
Andrew Williams, Marty The Martian
Victoria Boulter, Mexican Wrestler
Mark Sheeky, Beyond Mars
Lavinia Murray, Grotto Sotto Voce
Rebecca Cherrington, Mars
Steven Goodwin, What If Aliens Visited Mars First
Mark Sheeky, Columbia Andromeda

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Monday, February 05, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.5: Spirals

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 5: Spirals
Broadcast Monday 5 February 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.
Special guest Hazel Thompson.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Andrew Williams, Too Many Windmills
Lavinia Murray, Spiralontrial
Deborah Edgeley, Catherine Wheel
Mark Sheeky, Spiral
Mark Sheeky, Club Spiral
Deborah Edgeley, Fortress
Lavinia Murray, Lippy Spiral Blags The Prize
Andrew Williams, Fibonacci Variations
Rebecca Cherrington, Spirals
Lavinia Murray, The Spiralling Queue
Mark Sheeky, Erosion

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Monday, January 29, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.4: Dawn

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 4: Dawn
Broadcast Monday 29 January 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.
Special guest Simon Adeptun.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Trixi Field, Rose Sky
Mark Sheeky, Sunrise
Simon Ross, Erosion
Andrew Williams, Dawn
Steven Goodwin, Insomniac Dawn
Mark Sheeky, Dawn
Rebecca Cherrington, Dawn
Helen Kay, Dawn From A Gelert Rocky 4 Tent
Esther Johnson & Debbie Ballin, Christmas Bonus

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Monday, January 22, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.3: Soil

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 3: Soil
Broadcast Monday 22 January 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.
Special guests Alison Stafford & Christina Hopkinson.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Mark Sheeky, Where Is The Sun
Andrew Williams English Triffid Garden
Helen Kay, Soil
Lavinia Murray Golem In A Mud Bath With A Favourite Sow
Lavinia Murray, Soil 1
Mark Sheeky, Soil Food
Rebecca Cherrington, Soil
Lavinia Murray Soil Of The Kingdom Bootiful Soil
Andrew Williams, Mud

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You can listen live during the broadcast on:

Monday, January 15, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.2: War

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 2: War
Broadcast Monday 15 January 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Lavinia Murray, That's A Bit Dangerous Isnt It
Mark Sheeky, War Song
StephenPennell, Playing War
Andrew Williams, Victory Anthem For Nuclear War
Lavinia Murray, Wardance
StephenPennell, Soldier's Son
Lavinia Murray, What Ya Got There Boy A War
StephenPennell, Shooting
Lavinia Murray, Warglued
Andrew Williams, War March
Mark Sheeky, Napalm
Si Oliver, Dreamy Sleepy Nighty Snoozy Snooze
Rebecca Cherrington, Letter home
Oldfield 1, Post Apocalyptic Nightmare
Lavinia Murray, JFK The Robot Way

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Monday, January 08, 2018

ArtsLab S3 Ep.1: Open Theme

ArtsLab produced and presented by Mark Sheeky
Series 3 Episode 1
Broadcast Monday 8 January 2018, 2pm to 3pm GMT.
Special guest Dorli Nauta.

ArtsLab content is typically original, created by artists and poets for each episode.

Lavinia Murray, Carpet Petting Zoo
Deborah Edgeley, Scarlet Quadrilles
Andrew Williams, Take Art
Lavinia Murray, Its Alive Improv
Deborah Edgeley, Blackcurrant Jelly
Adam Paroussos, 32 Bamboo Mustard Remix
Stephen Pennell, The Works Clock

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Monday, January 01, 2018

Debunking Parallel Universes

There is an idea in contemporary physics that the universe is one of an infinite number of parallel universes. I do not believe this to be correct, but the idea has grains of truth in it.

Firstly let us dispose of infinity, for one infinity anywhere will inevitably lead to infinity everywhere. There is no instance in the real universe of infinity, although reality can often move as close to it as possible. Mathematics creates models of infinity (infinity doesn't exist in mathematics, as such, we could never count forever) but its models of infinity and a perfect universe work to describe ours. We can say that space is infinite, in that there is no limit to the nothing that particles can move into, but the size of the universe can still be finitely specified as the range between the particles at its most extreme; this is, and will always be, finite. One may say that the expansion of the universe will continue forever, but as forever is infinite, this cannot be the case. I am aware that this is logical fallacy and so state this jokingly; I am doubtful of the existence of forever, as, like infinite space, time can be measured as the difference between the start and end of the universe in its dimension. If time were infinite, such a measurement would be impossible. Would time exist in those circumstances? No. Remember that time is relative, and indeed, so is existence itself, which brings me on to the crux of this argument.

Some simple logic will conclude that multiple universes exist, but not that the observable universe is one of an infinite number of possibilities. Instead we have one each; there is necessarily one universe per observer.

Each of us has a unique viewpoint of the universe; you have a different view than I. This also applies to every particle and atom. Because of this, we each build up a unique picture of what the universe looks like. Our views may overlap; we might agree that the moon is over there, that the sky is blue etc. but our views can never be identical, there will always be an instance of knowledge that one of us knows that another doesn't. This means that the knowledge about the universe that we each have is unique to us.

This might sound obvious and lacking in serious implications, but actually its implications are extraordinary. I might not know anything about the dark side of Jupiter, but that doesn't affect whether it exists or not, does it? Actually, it does. The existence of the dark side of Jupiter, or of anything at all, depends on our observation and knowledge of it. That is a crucial fact in philosophy, and quantum mechanics. Our knowledge of the universe actually defines reality. Only what we know exists for us. Essentially, existence is relative to us, not absolute.

Of course, we can learn by communication and thus gain knowledge. Light particles communicate the existence of distant stars to our eyes, but at the same time, it is our unique knowledge that defines the reality of our universe.

So, there are multiple universes, but we are each in our own unique one. These are not infinite in number, but dependent on the number of particles and therefore viewpoints in the universe. Particles can combine; I myself, like you, are a summation of particles, so do I have a unique viewpoint, different from any of the particles or groups of particles that constitute me? Perhaps. If so then the number of viewpoints in the universe is the total of any combination of all of the particles in the universe; a gigantic number, but not infinite.

We will always have a unique perspective, and thus exist in a unique universe of our own. Perhaps, as a result of this perspective there is an aspect of it which cannot be shared, and perhaps this is what we call consciousness. It seems that consciousness cannot be defined in absolute terms, only relative, and then only experienced by ourselves and not proven to exist elsewhere. If consciousness is the result of our unique perspective in our universe, then all things, even atoms and sub-atomic particles, experience what we perceive as consciousness; a perspective, which is separate from thought.

What we call the objective universe is an overlap of a vast number of others; a common, but not definitive or perfect, reality.