Rock Music paper posted

The Rock Music paper that was presented at the Spark Festival this past February is now online in it's entirety.

Abstract: Millivolt level signals produced by certain rocks lend themselves to scientific, artistic and mythical interpretation. Empirical probing of these signals by an artist and an electrical engineer observed both linear and non-linear displays. Whether interpreted through the lens of science or panpsychism, the signals themselves provide an excellent template for sonic experimentation. Accumulated years of unstructured qualitative data indicate these tiny voltages originating in the core of the rock react to outside stimulus in a variety of perplexing ways. Creative application has therefore tended to produce unexpected and unexplained results.

continue reading...


I am an Oil Painter who has just "dabbled" with using my Art to create socially relevant messages. I have been unconsciously successful several times now, and have been nicely rewarded by Art buyers. It was not until recently that I decided to stop "dabbling" and understand the "science" of symbolic messaging and purposeful channeling of subliminal "feelings" to my audience (as did Eminem, maybe the Doors).

I am most interested to understand the "state of the Art" in semiotics and radionics with respect to Painting about Socially Relevant issues.

So, for example... I plan to do a series of 10 paintings (and collaboratively, photographs) about the re-emerging expansionism of Islam, now, since it halted on September 11 1683 at the gates of Vienna. I want to accomplish this without "beating the audience over the head" with my message, but I do want them to very clearly "feel" what I am trying to convey...a sense of concern about how he/she deals with this and what it means to them.

Just to make sure you do not misunderstand my motivations...I am also working on a series of 10 paintings called "die neueiserne Gardiene" (Neueiserne Gardiene being literal in German for New Iron Curtain)depicting 10 paintings of the Wall through Palestine built by the Israeli's. Again, I want to convey a sense through symbolism of outrage at the act of separation...without making it a political statement for or against Zionism.

I must confess, I have some ideas, but I need to "learn" how to translate the feelings I have about issues into Oil. Semiotics/Radionics seems to be a way. What do you think, and where do I start reading?


Many thanks for taking the time to post an interesting question on the blog. I am not sure I can be of much help, but will give it a try. The late John Norseen who's ideas I have tried to convey in Outlaw Technology was the semiotics expert, not myself. However, he continually stressed the work of Charles Sanders Peirce, often called the founder of pragmatism. I would also take a look at the papers of Alexei A. Sharov on the semiotic paradigm in biology. Consider these thoughts from Sharov:


"Organism as a Message. Living organisms have internal
self-description written in a DNA form. This description comes from
previous generations and summarize the experience of all ancestors in the
art of surviving. Thus, an organism has a dual nature: it stands for
itself and it is also a message sent from all previous generations to all
future generations (Calow 1978, Hoffmeyer 1997). This duality is the
essential feature of life which makes biological evolution possible.
Differential survival and reproduction of organisms is a semiotic process
which incorporates present into the future. Hoffmeyer (1997: 16)
characterizes life as survival in a coded form. Messages that provide
better recipes for surviving are reproduced together with organisms
whereas messages with poor instructions disappear together with their


At first blush, you may not see this as connected to your artistic goals, but understanding how symbols function in a primal, biological context should certainly help you determine how best to construct them to affect a specific audience. Norseen saw successful art as combining hitherto unrelated semiotics, images superimposed along side or upon one another that provoke irrational feeling. In the context of Islam, the Danish cartoons seemed to have created such a situation. I'm sure you can think of many other artworks that essentially do the same thing. I personally consider this type of audience baiting essentially trivial, unless the metaphors that are unlocked are truely astounding and revelatory. But, I am reluctant to cast dispersions on any specific art works; after all, who am I to judge anyone elses efforts?


Here's another bone to chew on from Sharov on the Peircean semiotic triad; object (O), representation (R) and interpretation (I):


"Semiotic Triads. Peirce suggested a triadic scheme for a sign
which is the relationship between a sign vehicle (e.g., the dinosaur
bone), an object (the dinosaur), and interpretant (the recognition of the
dinosaur from the bone by paleontologist) (Deely 1992). Hoffmeyer (1997)
applies triads to genetic code by considering the DNA as a sign vehicle,
fertilized egg as interpretant, and ontogenetic trajectory as object.
Despite obvious differences between these two examples, they both satisfy
the conditions of a sign relationship. In both cases the sign vehicle
triggers the process of building another object: the mental model of the
dinosaur or the material model of an organism. But if an organism is the
model then the model of what? I think that any organism is a model of its
ancestors. And as with any other model, it may slightly deviate from the


Norseen used to say that in order for ORI to be a complete semiotic, it needed to convey value or meaning to a future condition. Sharov put it this way:


"A message requires an interpreter, and the genetic code is interpreted
by each cell in the body. The offspring organism is supplied with both the
code and interpreter that can read this code and build an organism from
it. The processes of interpretation of the genetic code (organism
building) are called epigenetic processes. Thus, heredity always has
genetic and epigenetic components."


So, thinking about a painting, what value does it convey to a future interpretent? The art with the most longevity seems to be the art conveying the most information for future interpretants. This observation begs the question of what constitutes "value" in art? You can potentially use the study of semiotics to arrive at an answer to the question of value. Again, borrowing liberally from Sharov's paper, "Towards the semiotic paradigm in biology" 1998:


"Value. One of the basic problems in biosemiotics is
understanding how ‘something’ becomes ‘someone’ Hoffmeyer (1997). In other
words, what is the origin of subjectivity, or how a system can start
interpreting the world? Action is the only possible predecessor of
interpretation. In primitive organisms, interpretation is always reduced
to some simple action. For example, the sound of a bat means ‘fall down’
for a moth, and a source of light means ‘move here’ for unicellular algae.
Organisms also exhibit numerous spontaneous actions which are not induced
by any external signal. The question is: what makes organisms perform all
these actions? According to physics and chemistry, organism activity is
predetermined in its structure. But this is only a half of an answer or,
better to say, not an answer at all because the next question is why
organisms have this specific structure. Action and structure are two sides
of the same thing which can be called ‘organization’.

The explanation of the origin of organization comes from the theory of
evolution which in its most general form states that action and structure
may form a self-stimulating loop based on self-reproduction (Conrad 1983).
As a result, action and structure are integrated into an organism."


Note the reference to the 'self-stimulating loop'. In biology, the loop is based on self-reproduction. So, what is it based in in Art? I would argue that great art stores a type of energy, especially emotional energy, but perhaps also something more. I've been trying to write about that energy in terms of Radionics. I think talking about the tools that people can use to manipulate the energy is more productive to actual work than considerations of pure theory. Certainly, in order to learn how to paint, you had to come to grips with the process and materials first. If you take that approach to Radionics, you may find that your art tools are also radionic tools, and your paintings become objects with a new level of interpretation. Good Luck!


Hope that was of some marginal help to your efforts.


Duncan Laurie




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