Sten Kallin

Basic Info

Name: Sten Kallin
Country of Origin: SE


Sten Kallin was an engineer and computing expert who worked at IBM and collaborated with Sture Johannesson, Astrid Sampe and other graphic artists.

Born in 1928 in Sweden, he studied at Uppsala University, and in 1963 joined IBM, where he worked with graphic output devices and collaborated with a number of artists and scientists interested in computing. Kallin had an interest in the immense possibilities of using computers for visualization; initially, he mainly taught programming languages for the company, but would spend evenings and weekends at work experimenting with his own interests. He earned a reputation as a problem solver, and when IBM received queries out of the ordinary concerning computers, they would sometimes be passed along to him. In this manner, Kallin came into contact with a number of artists and scientists interested in computing and using computers to create images.

These collaborations illustrate a certain type of relationship between engineers, scientists and artists that began to evolve during the 1960s, as artists began to explore graphic processes involving computers. Sweden was at the forefront of this new horizon, along with the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. At this time, most available mainframe computer equipment was located at military and corporate research laboratories or in universities’ computer science centers. Artists needed to collaborate with computer experts in order to get access to the technology and take advantage of their specialized programming skills.

By the early 1970s, Kallin was assisting Sture Johannesson and other artists with computer graphics and digital technology, and along with Johannesson, founded the EPICS project (Exploring PICture Space), displaying “large-format prints of esoteric symbols whose outlines melt and morph into multicoloured fractal-like fields reminiscent of electrophotography or video feedback” (Frieze).

Kallin stayed at IBM for over 30 years, until his retirement.

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