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Computer Nude (Studies in Perception I)

© Estate of Leon Harmon / Ken Knowlton

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of Leon Harmon / Ken Knowlton

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Leon Harmon

American, 1922-1982

Ken Knowlton

American, born 1931

Computer Nude (Studies in Perception I), 1967

silkscreen print

Edition: unique

sheet: 34 x 72 inches (86.36 x 182.88 cm); framed: 34 x 73 x 2 1/2 inches (86.36 x 185.42 x 6.35 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Gift of A. Conger Goodyear, by exchange, 2014

P2014:2

More Details

Inscriptions

imprint / front, lower right / © 1967 Knowlton/Harmon

Class

Prints

Work Type

Screen print

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

Computer Nude (Studies in Perception I) is the most widely circulated early artwork made using a computer. It demonstrates the unique capacity of the viewer's brain to interpret a composition of abstract symbols grouped to emulate areas of tonal value as a human figure. Leon Harmon, a researcher in cognitive neuroscience, and Ken Knowlton, a computer engineer at AT&T’s Bell Labs, reenvisioned a photograph of dancer Deborah Hay as a bitmap mosaic using a program they developed. Harmon and Knowlton were brought together by Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.). Organized in 1966 by engineers Billy Klüver (American, born Monaco, 1927–2004) and Fred Waldhauer (American, 1927–1993), and artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman, this nonprofit group aimed to provide creative minds with access to new technology and engineering professionals.
 
Rauschenberg hung a copy of this image in his studio during a press conference for an E.A.T. event. It was photographed and subsequently reproduced in an October 11, 1967, article in The New York Times titled “Art and Science Proclaim Alliance in Avant-Garde Loft,” becoming the publication’s first full-frontal nude. Due to the popularity of the image, a limited-edition screen print was created from the original work.

Label from Giant Steps: Artists and the 1960s, June 30–December 30, 2018

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