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Lee Mullican (1919-1998) was a modernist painter best known for his linear palette knife technique. In the mid-1980s at the age of 67, Mullican began working with UCLA's Program for Technology in the Arts to explore how this signature painting style might translate to the emerging digital imaging technology of the day. Mullican started working with the IBM 5170, equipped with the Truevision Advanced Raster Graphics Adapter (TARGA), and a Summagraphics Summasketch stylus to experiment with painting and drawing on a computer.

Replacing his brush and signature palette knife striations with a clickable mouse and pen-like stylus, Mullican was able to merge the late Surrealist method of automatism with the computer's instant and precise replication of marks.

He stated, “I found that beyond what one thought, the computer as being hard-lined, analytical, and predictable, it was indeed a medium fueled with the automatic, enabled by chance, and accident to discover new ways of making imagery.”