Ken Knowlton, the father of computer art and animation, has died at the age of 91

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

In 2008, after retiring from technology research, he joined forces with a magician and inventor named Mark Setteducati in creating a jigsaw puzzle called Ji Ga Zo, which can be arranged to resemble anyone’s face. “He had an athletic mind mixed with a great aesthetic sense,” Mr. Setidocati said in a phone interview.

In addition to his son Rick, Dr. Knowlton is survived by two other sons, Kenneth and David, all from his first marriage, which ended in divorce; brother, Frederick Knowlton; Sister of Mary Knowlton. Two daughters, Melinda and Susan Knowlton, died from his first marriage, and his second wife, Barbara Bean Knowlton.

While at Bell Labs, Mr. Knowlton collaborated with many famous artists, including experimental director Stan Vanderbeek, computer artist Lillian Schwartz, and electronic music composer Laurie Spiegel. He saw himself as an architect who helped others create art, as provided for in Mr. Rauschenberg’s EAT project.

But later in his life he began creating, exhibiting and selling art of his own, building traditional analog pictures using dominoes, dice, seashells and other materials. He belatedly realized that when engineers collaborate with artists, they become more than just engineers.

He wrote in 2001: “In the best cases, they become more fully human beings, in part due to the understanding that all behavior does not come from logic, but, at a lower level, from intrinsically untenable feelings, values, and motives.” . “

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