Kenneth C. Knowlton | i |
 
last name: Knowlton
first name: Kenneth C.
also known as: Ken Knowlton
birthday: 1931
birth-place: Springville NY (USA)
Summary

Kenneth C. Knowlton began working at Bell Labs after earning a Ph.D. in computer science from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 1962.

As a member of Bell’s Computer Techniques Research Department, he developed BEFLIX, most likely the first specialized computer animation language, which was used by artists to make experimental films. At times this let to collaborations between those artists and Knowlton. Perhaps the best known of those artists is Stan Van der Beek.

In collaboration with Leon Harmon, he developed electronic scanning technologies that were explored in the series of “Studies in Perception”.

Famous became the large Nude that Leon Harmon and Ken Knowlton did together in 1966. The image appeared in the New York Times (of October 11, 1967) as their first nude ever. It was included in the show “The machine as seen at the end of the mechanical age” (MoMA 1968). The procedure for this style of image was quite simple: Scan a photographic image, thus generating a grid of grey values. Now replace the grey valued pixels by elementary characters chosen from a type font such that the replacing characters approximate the grey values of the scanned pixel. Print the resulting image on a line printer!

The same technique was used for several other images, none of which reached the level of popularity as the nude girl did. Knowlton commented on this: “We did make similar pictures — of a gargoyle, of seagulls, of people sitting at computers — which have appeared here and there. But it was our Nude who would dolphin again and again into public view in dozens of books and magazines.”

Essay by the artist on his work at Bell Labs.

Biography

1953 B. of Engineering Physics, Cornell University. Research Assistant in Electron Microscopy.
1955 M. S. Engineering Physics, Cornell University. Physics, Math, Biology. Thesis title: X-Ray Microscopy with a Modified RCA Electron Microscope.
1962 Ph.D. Communications Sciences, M.I.T. Electrical Engineering, Computer Science. Thesis title: Sentence Parsing with a Self-Organizing Heuristic Program.
1962-1982 Worked at the BELL TELEPHONE LABORATORIES, Computer Techniques Research Dept. Developed graphics programming languages BEFLIX, EXPLOR, ATOMS, SPHERES.
1982-1983 Worked at SRI INTERNATIONAL, Computing Research Division.
1983-1986 Worked at NETWORKED PICTURE SYS. & VIA VIDEO, Developed a method for the lossless progressive transmission of color pictures.
1986-1987 Worked at DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, Constructed a library of tools and methods for a new high-resolution color graphics board.
1987-1995 Worked at WANG LABORATORIES. Software Engineering Architect, Developed 10 U.S. Patents.
1996-2000 Worked at NETWAVE/QUICKBUY. Research and Development of tools for Internet browsing and electronic commerce.
1967 With Stan Vanderbeek. MAN AND HIS WORLD: Made in conjunction with EXPO 67 in Montreal; POEMFIELDs No. 1 through 10: ten films made with Knowlton’s “TARPS” language (Two-D Alphanumeric Raster Picture System, a set of macros based on BEFLIX).
1968-1974 Provided the programming background for Lillian Schwartz’s series of ten animated films, done with variations of Knowlton’s language EXPLOR (pictures based on EXplicit Patterns, Local Operations and Randomness): PIXILLATION, OLYMPIAD, UFOS, ENIGMA, GOOGOLPLEX (B/W), APOTHEOSIS, AFFINITIES, KINESIS, ALAE, METAMORPHOSIS. [Note: It is currently unclear to which extent Knowlton and Schwartz did actually collaborate.] These films were shown in about thirty film festivals throughout the 1970’s.
1978 Collaborated with Emmanuel Ghent on the electronic film , BAOBAB. 20 min, combining Ghent’s electronic music and Knowlton’s images produced by the SFERES system showing the progressive growth of a monstrous planetoid object.
1965 Talk “Computer-Produced Movies,” Columbia Engineering Centennial Symposium, New York.
1966 to 1972 Member of the Board of the American Science Film Association.
1967 Talk on “BEFLIX Techniques,” Conference on Computer Animation, Education Development Center, Newton, MA.
1968 Participated in the exhibition Cybernetic Serendipity, at Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.
1968 Participated in Experiments in Art and Technology SHOW, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
1970 to 1975 Conducted Workshops on BEFLIX & EXPLOR at various Universities in the USA (East Michigan University, Syracuse; University of Minnesota; City University of New York).
1971 Visiting Professor of Computer Graphics, University of California, Santa Cruz.
1971 to 1975 Won numerous awards for collaboratively made art films with Lillian Schwartz.
1971 ART EX MACHINA (6-artist portfolio) G.Gheerbrant curator,Montreal
1971 COMPUTER ART AND MUSIC EXHIBITION, University of Minnesota.
1972 to 1982 Member of National Committee for Electrical Engineering Films.
1972 NINTH ANNUAL AVANTGARDE FESTIVAL, New York City.
1972 OBERLIN COMPUTER ART EXHIBITION, Oberlin, Ohio.
1972 CANADIAN COMPUTER ART EXHIBITION, Montreal, Canada.
1974 INTERNATIONAL COMPUTER ART EXHIBITION, Montreal, Canada.
1974 THE SDL COLLECTION (8-artist travelling exhibit), Gheerbrant curator, Montreal,Canada.
1975 to 1977 An ACM National lecturer on computer graphics.
1975 IMPRESSIONS, Summit Art Center, Summit, New Jersey.
1975 CANADIAN COMPUTER SHOW ART EXHIBITION, Toronto, Canada.
1975 THE ART & SKILL OF PEOPLE USING COMPUTERS, IBM.
1976 COMPUTER GRAPHICS ART EXHIBITION, NCC, New York.
1978 ART OF THE SPACE ERA, Huntsville Museum of Art, Alabama, USA.
1979 COMPUTER ART EXHIBITION, Westlake Gallery, White Plains, NY.
1979 Year’s Honorary Life Member, Computer Arts Society, London.
1980 onwards SIGGRAPH ART SHOWS (several of the annual SIGGRAPH conferences)
1980 Distinguished Visiting Professor, New Mexico State University.
1980 ART IN / ART OUT – Ukranian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, Illinois.
1980 U.S. EMBASSY SHOW, Stockholm, Sweden.
1980 BUCKS COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE ARTMOBILE, Bucks County, PA.
1982 COMPUTER ART EXHIBIT AND FESTIVAL, Lehigh Univ, Bethlehem, PA.
1984 COMPUTERS IN ART & DESIGN, RESEARCH & EDUCATION, San Jose, CA.
1987 ARTISTS IN THE COMPUTER AGE, M.I.T. Museum, Cambridge, MA.
1998 LIBERTY ENLIGHTENING THE WORLD, Waterfront Museum, NY Harbor, NY.
1998 SIGGRAPH 25th ANNIVERSARY ART SHOW, Orlando, FL.
1999 SNOW SHOW, Greater Derry Arts Council, Opera House, Derry, NH.
1999 ELECTRONIC RITUALS (7-person retro), Intermedia Arts, St. Paul MN.
1999 SHARE OUR VISION, Arts Institute Group, Lawrence Heritage St. Pk, MA.
2002 CONGLOMERATIONS (Society of American Mosaic Artists), Orangeburg SC.
2008 IMAGING BY NUMBERS, Block Museum of Art, Illinois.
Member of institutions
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