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To the 96th Birthday of a Visionary

Herbert W. Franke, who died in 2022 at the age of 95, is a pioneer of bridging science and art. A theoretical physicist with a doctorate, he created an extensive oeuvre as a freelance writer, artist and scientist since the 1950s. He was a pioneer of German post-war science fiction, is regarded worldwide as a pioneer of computer art, discovered the C14 method for age determination in the field of cave research in 1952 and subsequently made numerous important scientific contributions to Sinter -dating and -chronology. On the occasion of his 96th birthday on May 14, we would like to announce upcoming events featuring Herbert W. Franke’s work and provide an update on ongoing Foundation projects.

The green Comet (Der grüne Komet) – Franke’s first utopian book with a short story collection in 1960.
Mondrian (1979) – endlessly running or interactive code by Franke for one of the first home computers, the TI 99/4.
Stalactite cave in Yugoslavia, photographed by Franke in the 1960s.

At the science fiction convention MetropolCon in Berlin, the community honors the pioneer of German-language post-war science fiction Herbert W. Franke with an exhibition of a special kind: with images from his utopian series Phantastische Welten (Fantastic Worlds) as well as still images from Z-Galaxy, his metaverse gallery, which Franke published in 2008 on the 3D platform Active Worlds. The exhibition of the works will be opened by the well-known author Dietmar Dath with a short introduction on May 18 at 3 pm.

Franke’s “Z-Galaxy” (2008)
Franke’s Serie Grün (1974)

Astropoeticon is based on a utopian poetry cycle by Herbert W. Franke. The 16 minimalist-associative poems were written in 1979 for a book with pictures by the space painter Andreas Nottebohm and have since been reprinted in the volume “Der Kristallplanet” (the cristal planet) of Franke’s utopian writings. In 2007 the author read in the poems, and even before his death Susanne Päch of HYPERRAUM.TV converted the cycle into a multimedia associative-virtual experience space – underpinned by the melancholic-dark sounds of the electronic sound artists Bersarin and Subheim.

In the theme evening “Herbert W. Franke: art meets science” on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of his death on July 16, 2022 Franke’s equally extensive and multifaceted work in the border area between science and art will be presented in an evening event. In two short lectures, the significance of Franke’s work will be classified: Art historian Dr. Heike Piehler presents the visual artist as a pioneer of algorithmic art. The literary scholar Prof. Dr. Hans Esselborn presents the role of the writer Franke as a pioneer of German-language post-war science fiction. An exhibition will also feature works by Franke, who is now celebrated worldwide as a pioneer of computer art. As a highlight of the evening, the Astropoeticon will be shown for the first time in a 3D dome projection in the Media Dome of Kiel University of Applied Sciences.

Franke’s “Phantastische Welten”
Voice Gem Astropoeticon von Herbert W. Franke an artist collaboration with Harry Yeff and Trung Bao

Opening May 16 – Virtual Exhibition New Float: Two new exhibition spaces of the virtual museum New Float by Metaverse artist Manuel Rossner from Berlin open their doors. Also on view inside is Voice Gem Astropoeticon, a collaboration by Franke with artist duo Harry Yeff and Trung Bao, who used artificial intelligence to “freeze” a poem from the cycle into crystalline structure.

25. Mai – 15. Juni – Poème Sbjkt – Galerie Vossen Paris: Galerie Vossen Paris: An exhibition on the theme of literature and AI by Galerie Vossen in Paris, curated by crypto artist Sasha Stiles. It takes place in the Librairie Galerie Métamorphoses, dedicated to generative literature. Also on view there is the Voice Gem Astropoeticon von Herbert W. Franke.

In the ZKM Archive Herbert W. Franke: Collection of letters and manuscripts (above) as well as receipts and journal collection (right).

In the school project Robotics for Namibian pupils, a robotics curriculum with experiments is now being developed as a pilot together with the computer club of the state-run Duine Secondary School in Walvis Bay, which will then be rolled out in other schools in Namibia. In March, a teacher-student delegation handed over the first robotics experiment kits at the joint project launch, and more robotics kits will soon be on their way to Namibia.

Press Contact:
Dr. Susanne Psch
art meets science – Foundation Herbert W. Franke