Lloyd Sumner | i |
last name: Sumner
first name: Lloyd
birthday: 1943
birth-place: Hillsville (VA)(USA)
death date: 1996

Lloyd Sumner was an early computer artist in the USA, the first, perhaps, to try and make a living from the graphic works he made the computer to realise. He was represented at the Cybernetic Serendipity show (London 1968) as well as the Tendencies 5 (Zagreb 1969).

His booklet Computer Art and Human Response appeared as a private publication in 1968. It was another step in his decision to commercialise his art. In that book, he calls computers he was working with, “his friends”,

His works are characterized by smooth curves, moiré patterns, symmetry and evenly spaced lines. Randomness does not play an important role, most works are carefully calculated, nothing is left to chance. Comparing his oeuvre of geometric and, at times, figurative line-based shapes with other productions of the time, it stands out for a simple, searching, at times almost childishly naive style.

He had access to computer hardware while working at the Computer Science Center at the University of Virginia. There he found a plotting machine of which no one seemed to know how to use. So he acquainted himself with it, and was soon producing computer art.

Sumner said about computer art in general:

“The computer artist is a reactor, not an innovator. He is an artist with a tool not a programmer with luck.”


1943 Born as youngest of 13 siblings.
1959 Orphaned at age of 16.
1962 Enters University of Virginia.
1964 Part time job at Computer Science Center at University of Virginia, has access to a Burroughs B5500 computer and a plotter, begins experimenting with computer drawings.
after 1964 Begins to enter art shows, first at Charlottesville, VA, businesses and the University.
Spring 1967 Graduates in (Mechanical) engineering science, major in mathematics, minor in arts at the University of Virginia, Engineering School.
1969 Makes a living by selling his computer art by catalog.
1971-75 As a passionate cyclist, he undertakes a tour around the world. It is documented in a book, The long ride.
posted about 9 years ago
Lloyd was (is) my uncle - in addition to his computer art, he was also a dedicated cyclist - a spinner I think he would prefer. His round-the-world trip 1971-75 is documented in his book The Long Ride. I've got some cool videos of his early computer art as well.
posted about 8 years ago
Would you, please, care to get in touch with me at my given email address. I would appreciate this very much.
posted almost 8 years ago
I am writing a book on Computer graphics pioneers. Would you please contact me (tom/AT/tomislavmikulic.com). Thank you very much in advance, I appreciate it.
posted over 3 years ago
I ran into Lloyd in the small town of Graham, Texas in the afternoon of March 14,1972. I was taking an afternoon ride and he was just coming into town. We had dinner and he gave an interview to the local paper. Nice fellow and interesting trek he was on. jhatjr@gmail.com
posted over 3 years ago
Lloyd came thru Kentucky in the early parts of the 70's. My brother Tom invited him to stay at our house which he did for several days while he caught up on his writings an toured our historic town. My father wasn't happy about his stay at first because he was working out of town but mother really enjoyed him. He started sending her his journal which was a great read. He later sent us a signed computer art print which still hangs in mothers favorite room. He was a very knowledgeable man. Mother loved hearing from him
posted over 3 years ago
Loyd and I were roommates the last year we were at UVa. We kept up after I moved to Greensboro NC, and on his 1st bike trip across the country, we were his first stop. We attended his wedding with Jean, traveled with them on their wood collecting trip to Peru, and gave a tiny bit of help in finnishing their self-designed home in the shape of a nautilus shell.
posted 8 months ago
I met LLoyd in 1973 when he camped next to me, wife & 2 daughters. He was good with the girls. I met again later when he gave a talk to IBM in Wellington.
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