KEN KNOWLTON  (Sarasota, Florida)

Arcimboldo-ed Julia Child by Ken Knowlton, 2010, computer-composited digital print

My portrait of well-known chef Julia Child (1912-2004) was inspired by the paintings of the 16-century Italian artist, Giuseppe Arcimboldo. His portraits were composed of miniaturized, overlapping images of items like fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, or books that were appropriate for each of his subjects.

Had Arcimboldo been alive today, he might have programmed a computer to use a system like I devised. I began by creating a "library" of cutout images of fruits and vegetables for applying to a mono-colored background. The program is designed to analyze each cutout for its color, shape, and directional orientation, and then it digitally pastes each cutout image in front of or behind all previous ones, but only if enough of the previous items are still recognizable. This process is exhaustively repeated until there is no possible compositional "improvement."