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Ken Knowlton, a Father of Computer Art and Animation, Dies at 91


Dr. Knowlton remained at Bell Labs until 1982, experimenting with everything from computer-generated music to technologies that allow the deaf to read sign language over the phone. He later joined Wang Laboratories, where, in the late 1980s, he helped create a personal computer that allowed users to annotate documents with synchronized voice messages and digital pen strokes. .

In 2008, after retiring from tech research, he joined a magician and inventor named Mark Setteducati in creating a jigsaw puzzle called Ji Ga Zo, which could be arranged to look like anyone’s face. “He has a mathematical mind combined with a good sense of aesthetics,” Mr. Setteducati said in a telephone interview.

In addition to his son Rick, Dr. Knowlton is survived by two other sons, Kenneth and David, all from his first marriage, which led to divorce; a brother, Fredrick Knowlton; and a sister, Marie Knowlton. Two daughters, Melinda and Suzanne Knowlton, also from his first marriage, and his second wife, Barbara Bean-Knowlton, died.

While at Bell Labs, Mr. Knowlton has collaborated with several well-known artists, including experimental filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek, computer artist Lillian Schwartz and electronic-music composer Laurie Spiegel. He sees himself as an engineer who helps others create art, as prescribed by Mr. EAT’s project. Rauschenberg.

But later in his life he began to create, display and sell his own art, creating traditional analog images with dominoes, dice, shells and other materials. He was late in realizing that if engineers collaborated with artists, they would become more than just engineers.

“In the most extreme cases, they become more complete people, in part from the understanding that all behavior is not from logic but, at the lowest level, from intrinsically indefensible emotions, values ​​and drives, “he wrote in 2001.” Some eventually became artists. “



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