Ken Knowlton

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Kenneth C. Knowlton (born 1931 in Springville, New York), is a computer graphics pioneer, artist, mosaicist and portraitist, who worked at Bell Labs.

In 1963, Knowlton developed the BEFLIX (Bell Flicks) programming language for bitmap computer-produced movies, created using an IBM 7094 computer and a Stromberg-Carlson 4020 microfilm recorder. Each frame contained eight shades of grey and a resolution of 252 x 184. Knowlton worked with artists including Stan VanDerBeek and Lillian Schwartz. He and VanDerBeek created the Poem Field animations. Knowlton also created another programming language named EXPLOR (EXplicit Patterns, Local Operations and Randomness).[1][2][3]

In 1966, he prepared an animated film as an introduction to the Bell Telephone Laboratories' Low-Level Linked List Language (L6).[4]

In 1966, Knowlton and Leon Harmon were experimenting with photomosaic, creating large prints from collections of small symbols or images. In Studies in Perception I they created an image of a reclining nude, by scanning a photograph with a camera and converting the analog voltages to binary numbers which were assigned typographic symbols based on halftone densities. It was printed in The New York Times on 11 October 1967, and exhibited at one of the earliest computer art exhibitions, The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age, held Museum of Modern Art in New York City from November 25, 1968 through February 9, 1969.[1][5][6]

Knowlton's work had been previously exhibited at Cybernetic Serendipity, an exhibition held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London from August 2 to October 20, 1968.[7]

Knowlton is the co-inventor of Ji Ga Zo, U.S. release date March 30, 2011. Ji Ga Zo is a puzzle in which the user assembles a mosaic from 300 shaded pieces to form a digitized image from the user's own photograph.


  1. ^ a b Ken Knowlton. "Mosaic Portraits: New Methods and Strategies" (PDF). PAGE 59 (Winter 2004/2005). Computer Arts Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-26.
  2. ^ Stills from Pixillation (1963), by Knowlton & Lillian Schwartz, programmed in BEFLIX Archived 2009-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation: CGI Family Tree: Bell Labs". Archived from the original on 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2007-03-08.
  4. ^ Raphael, Bertram (1966). "R66-52 A Programmer's Description of LLLLLL, Bell Telephone Laboratories Low Level Linked List Language". IEEE Transactions on Electronic Computers. IEEE. EC-15 (4): 681–682. doi:10.1109/PGEC.1966.264430. ISSN 0367-7508.
  5. ^ Studies in Perception I (1966), by Knowlton & Leon Harmon Archived 2009-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation: Bell Labs Archived 2006-09-06 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Brent MacGregor. "Cybernetic Serendipity Revisited" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-10.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Reichardt, Jasia. Cybernetic Serendipity: the Computer and the Arts. London: Studio international, 1968. New York: Praeger, 1969. OCLC 13140
  • Hultén, K.G. Pontus. The Machine as Seen at the End of Mechanical Age. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1968. OCLC 166480 OCLC 5561448
  • Anderson, S.E., and John Halas. Computer Animation. New York: Hastings House, 1974. OCLC 447407