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.

Errors and omissions frankly probable. This is one of several musings on life the universe and everything listed in the Writing and Essays section of

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 ArSwarm, 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.