Synthetik’s application Studio Artist is a painting application, in much the same way as Stockhausen was an electrician. Like many photo applications, it has a large number of presets, each of which manipulates an image in some way. Unlike them, you can create your own presets, but I’ve not done that.

I built a previous project, reflets, using version 4 of Studio Artist, exploring the software’s capabilities to transform a very colourful photograph.

Studio Artist version 5 has now been released. It has got me excited, again. This time, though, I want to explore the transformation of text. This project, concrete, is an exercise to apply the presets to a piece of text — well, an image of a piece of text — to see what comes out the other side.

image: white text on black

Why text? Well, think concrete poetry, sound poetry, futurist poetry—and book covers. I believe Studio Artist has got great potential with text, but I find I need to catalogue its possibilities before I try to apply them. This new version gives me a good reason—well, excuse—to do so.

A lot of the provisos that applied to my previous Studio Artist project, reflets, are still pertinent. I am not using the product correctly. I am not using it to anything like its potential. I am behaving like a photographer, not a (digital) painter.

Studio Artist has a great number of technologies, algorithms and parameters to work on visual material, and thousands of examples of how to use those parameters. Those examples are called presets. This project, concrete, just like its predecessor project, reflets, records the result of the application of each of those presets to a chosen image.

The images output by the presets are my copyright. That’s why I’ve copyrighted everything. However, quite a few results don’t seem to have much in common with the input, and everything in common with the example shown in the application. So, although all of concrete is my copyright, some images are almost, if not exactly, the same as something someone else might produce using the same software on a quite different original image. This software reflects an original image into something new, and sometimes that something new hasn’t much in common with what was being reflected, and rather a lot more in common with the little old lady who walked in front of the camera at the wrong moment. Remember, my goal with concrete is to explore the application. I intend to use what I learn to create something fresh.

With that in mind, I will acknowledge that a lot of the images, especially those without text, were almost entirely created by the software authors, and my input consists of the special skill known as pressing a button. I acknowledge and thank them.

Anyway, to explore Studio Artist properly, before I can apply the presets, I have to chose a common image for them to work on. concrete is about concrete poetry, about text, so, unsurprisingly, I’ve chosen a piece of text. I’ve set something simple, something that doesn’t mention foxes, in Adobe’s Garamond, at 72 point. I chose a serif font because I want to see what happens to the knobbly bits, and Garamond because I like it. I chose stark white on hard black mostly because it’ll display better on arts & ego (ignoring the little matter of contrast). I had Studio Artist output an image a quarter the original’s area.

It’ll take quite a while, probably more than a year, to put the text through all of Studio Artist’s presets, so the new section, concrete, will take time to complete.

If you browse concrete, please remember that Studio Artist presets are intended for experimentation on all kinds of artworks, so it’s unsurprising that some fail on dark glare.