Thursday, February 5, 2015

Otto Laske's Algorithmic Visual Composition

Studio Artist user Otto Laske has a long personal history of exploring different aspects of what he calls digital "algorithmic composition" to create fine art. First in the diverse realms of electronic music composition and computational poetry. Then expanding over time to include the creation of visual music animations. And finally extending to digitally generated visual drawings, paintings, and manipulated digital photography.

Otto has this to say about the development of his algorithmic approach to creating visual artwork and animations.

"The 'algorithmic' thinking that I have adopted in my art making is detailed in two new downloadable pdf documents. An Ebook called 'Fifty Years of Algorithmic Composition' and an essay on 'Permeable Boundaries.' Both texts shed light on a creative process in the strict sense that, in my thinking, transcends conventional boundaries between the arts."

The origin of Otto's movement from music to visual artwork initially formulated in animations he made to visualize his electro-acoustic compositions. They were all 'visual music' animations in the sense that their backbone was the musical score that underlies them. But over time, he expanded his algorithmic visual creativity to encompass the creation of digital still art imagery.

"My process in creating an image is one of fitting together a drawing and a painting based on an animation still. This is a process I have been experimenting with in my Studio Artist software where I continuously find new ways of thinking visually. What elates me when creating an image is the improvisational nature of my process, the spontaneity that my knowledge of the software I use makes possible.

For me esthetic boundaries are entirely permeable, and this is particularly true for the art forms that used to be called photography and painting. I may use animation tools to make a single image rather than a whole series of images as I do when composing a lengthy animation."

Otto's thoughts on algorithmic compositions and expanding focus on techniques for digital painting and drawing continued to expand over time.  A significant step beyond following the source image occurred when he began using animation stills as mere color-shape templates for 'free' painting. Here, the animation still itself is no longer identifiable as the source of the painting.

"Recently, of particular interest to me has been the merger of painting and drawing.

Since I am working with software, after settling for one set of colors, I could theoretically try different color schemes before I settle down for a particular one as the definitive one. But I surmise that the colors I decided to use at the beginning of my creative process have an intimate connection with the drawing that developed, however hard it may be to verbalize this connection.

Technically, what interests me in this work is the possibility of working spontaneously and improvisationally in two dimensions at the same time, such that the drawing influences how colors are used and the colors influence how the drawing develops."

Otto makes heavy use of Studio Artist to create his visual compositions. When asked what he particularly likes about working with Studio Artist, he had this to say.

"Studio Artist is a real gold mine for serious professional compositional explorations in the visual domain. It encourages experimentation and leads to unbelievable serendipity. I really like the ability to work with controlled randomization, a process i first learned in music composition. Paint synthesizer evolution allows one to export hybridized presets, which can then be hybridized further. Paint and image operations can also be mixed together to create more powerful compositional effects."

Otto has been very active participating in a number of fine art exhibition shows over the last few years. Including a solo show at the Newburyport Firehouse Gallery, and the Beaumont Texas Art League. In 2014 he curated his first exhibition, called 'Pixel Revolution', at Rocky Neck Art Colony in Gloucester MA. In this show, he brought together 20 abstract works, half of which were either animation stills or based on animation stills as their source. This show included work by additional Studio Artist users, including Arlene Rabinowitz and Scott Smith.

You can learn more about Otto's artwork, visual music animations, and creative process at his web site. The two pdf documents mentioned above that detail Otto's investigations into digital algorithmic composition for generating artwork are available for download here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

12 x 30, Blind

Studio Artist animator Jean Detheux has a new film called "12 x 30, Blind" that will be in competition in the Arts and Experimentaiton category at the RVCQ festival in Montreal Canada. It will screen at the Cinémathèque québécoise, Salle Claude-Jutra, between 2:35 p.m. and 3:31 p.m. on the 22nd of February (a Sunday). If you can't make it to the screening, the film is available online for viewing here.

Jean worked with composer Don Meyer to create the film. Jean had this to say about their collaborative process.

I proposed to send Don a 6-minute silent movie, for which he would compose the music, but sent to him only one 30-second segment at a time, in chronological order (hence "12 x 30"). My idea was to apply, to the music composition, the process Philip Guston called "inherent composition." This process or, more precisely, this "faith," presupposes that we don't have to have a view of the whole when we create a composition, be it music, painting or movie. It posits that there is "something" at work that "composes" the piece even if (especially if) we do not try to get an overall view of the project.

Jean also has another animated film called "Destination" that will soon be at the California State University Fullerton as part of the World Electroacoustic Listening Room Project (WEALR), part of the 2015 New Music Festival. And a third new film called "Evolution of Song_Y" with music by Wilfried Jentzsch will be appearing at another film festival later in the year. 

For more information on Jean Detheux's work with Studio Artist, check out his web site.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Artist: Lucas Krech

Studio Artist user Lucas Krech is a bit of a modern renaissance man. Besides pursuing a very busy career as a professional lighting designer, Lucas also works with digital still and photo fine art, and as a video artist. Lucas took to working with Studio Artist very quickly after getting a copy, and has used Studio Artist quite extensively across the wide range of all of his different diverse artistic interests.

I asked the New York based artist to talk about his work philosophy a little bit.

"My image making is rooted in the world of traditional photography as mediated by digital tools. I enjoy working with my own images and found content. I exploit traditional analog styles through the means of digital manipulation. When designing video content for live performance I root my work in the historical period of the show. This can mean finding public domain content for more recent settings or utilizing physical media styles like oils and watercolor for further back. I mix this found content with my own original images to construct the final design."

In addition to digital still art and photo manipulation for fine art printing, Lucas uses Studio Artist to process video footage to create stylized dynamic moving art backdrops for use in live theatre productions.

"For the Coronation of Poppea we set the opera in 1962 and thus our visual style was based around the pop art movement just then bursting on to the international scene. I found material from of that period and then used Studio Artist to rotoscope the content into a pop art look. For this project I was primarily using the MSG Image processor to build the look of each piece of video. The ability to rough in a look and then evolve it in software allows for both precision and happy accidents, a combination I love to find in my art making."

Because Studio Artist's extensive features bridge the gaps across many different traditional art software boundaries (digital painting, photo manipulation, procedural art, auto-rotoscoping and video effects) inside a single software package, it's a perfect fit for an artist like Lucas. For more information on featured Studio Artist user Lucas Krech, check out his website at .

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Expand Your Photographic Horizons with Slit Scan Imagery

Wired magazine recently ran an article featuring a photographer who was trying to expand his horizons by lugging a desktop scanner underwater to capture slit scan imagery. As soon as i read the article, i realized that Studio Artist gives you the ability to do what this person is doing without the intensive requirements associated with lugging a desktop scanner around with you to generate slit scan images. You can do everything this photographer is doing and more just by using Studio Artist in conjunction with a portable digital video camera.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Creating Hand Drawn Animation in Studio Artist

Award winning animator Sharon Katz has been a Studio Artist user and beta tester for many years. She recently completed a 4 part series of tutorials and product reviews associated with learning the basics of animating on your own. Her most recent tutorial post on 'Teaching Yourself Animation' includes a nice description and review of Studio Artist. It also lays out some of the compelling advantages for adding Studio Artist to your personal arsenal of digital effects tools.

The example animation frame above was totally hand drawn by Sharon in Studio Artist, and is a part of a completed hand animated film totally made within Studio Artist. Sharon has in fact used Studio Artist for all of her award winning animated films except the first 2 she ever made, which were probably done before she was even aware of Studio Artist. And she chooses to use Studio Artist even though she is very familiar with every other option available for digital artists. And she discusses the pros and cons of all of them in her tutorial article.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

MauiCanvasPrint Interview

Many of our Studio Artist users have expressed a fasciation with printing their digital artwork on Aluminum. As opposed to printing on paper or canvas, the normal traditional surfaces available for giclee digital fine art printing.  One Studio Artist user, John Anderson, has achieved considerable commercial success selling large format aluminum prints of his Studio Artist created artwork for corporate art installation projects.

So i was really happy when MauiCanvasPrint company owner Ian Haywood was up for submitting to an interview, to help us all understand the finer points of printing digital artwork on aluminum.

MauiCanvasPrint's new location is in the recently becoming trendy Pauwela Cannery, located on the north shore of Maui. Where you can grab an espresso and a meal for outdoor dining, or a fine fresh pastry from Baked on Maui. And by baked they mean fresh bread and pastries, not other things Maui might be known for.

I met Ian one afternoon recently, and he gave me a tour of his very cool combo printshop / local art gallery, located inside of the main old Pauwela Cannery building.

Ian's company specifically invested in a new Epson 7890 printer specially devoted to printing on aluminum. In addition to their existing Epson Stylus Pro 11880 for paper and canvas printing
Digital fine art printing on aluminum is really a two stage process. At least the way they do it.

I have heard of people trying to run a piece of aluminum through an ink jet printer at home. We actually had an article here that discussed that experimental do-it-yourself approach previously.

But high quality commercial digital fine art printing on aluminum is really a two stage process.
Involving first printing a reversed image print onto a sublimation dye transfer sheet.
And then using a heat and pressure transfer process to transfer the inverted printed image from the printed sublimation dye transfer sheet onto the actual piece of aluminum.
Where the reversed transfer sheet print image then becomes the original orientation final artwork dye based print image on the aluminum backing surface of that completed metal print.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Studio Artist user Zennor Alexander is currently hard at work pushing the limits of running Studio Artist on his newly acquired Mac Pro. His video collaborations with Scottish/Burmese musician and vocalist Fiona Soe Paing create haunting audio and visual landscapes filled with a potent combination of evocative electronica and animated visuals. You can check out an awesome playlist of their recent work here.

There's a really magical visual transformation that starts happening about 1:30 into their Tah Stin Koh Mpor video. You can see a single frame of that transformation above screen captured at around 1:33. But i was so entranced by the piece that i wanted to visualize the entire imaginary landscape the video was leading me into at that particular moment. So i loaded the original video as a movie source into Studio Artist and then used the Scan Tracker temporal ip op effect to create an extended view of the imaginary world the video transports you through, as seen below.
This extended view was created by processing 180 frames of the original source video with the new Scan Tracker 2 temporal ip op to create an extended single image panorama view derived from those 180 frames of the original music video, using the settings shown below.

Here's a few still frames from their video 'Little Reminders', which is just one of the many awesome videos available on this colliderscope youtube playlist that were created using Studio Artist.

When i talked to Zennor about the decisions he went through choosing the optimal configuration for his new mac pro, he mentioned settling on the 6 core 3.5 Ghz configuration. Like many professionals looking at the new mac pros, choosing the optimal core configuration for your new computer is a complicated issue. Since the overall processor speed decreases as you increase the number of cores in your custom configured mac pro computer. So while you might think just maxing our the number of cores in your new machines would be the best solution, that's not necessarily the case due to the processor speed decrease as the number of cores increases. Most people feel there is a sweet spot somewhere in the middle of the range of possible machine configurations that is the optimal solution for their particular needs.

Even though he moved from an older 8 core mac pro tower to a 6 core configuration with the new mac pro, he's reporting speed increases of approximately 60% when running Studio Artist Paint Action Sequences on the new mac pro vs the old aluminum tower one. The increased bus and openGL rendering speeds of the new mac pros are probably a big factor in the increased Studio Artist rendering speeds. So when evaluating any complex computer configuration, you need to factor in everything associated with getting optimal speed on the new machine, not just the number of processor cores its using.

You can learn more about Fiona Soe Paing's work here. And the Tower of Babel EP accompanied by a limited edition DVD of music videos by Zennor Alexander is available here.