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Herbert W. Franke: Manuscript Database

On 16 November 2023, the pilot version of the database with the digitized manuscripts of Herbert W. Franke went public at the ZKM | Karlsruhe. The database contains around 2.000 manuscripts by the pioneer bridging art and science, beginning 1949 with an early scientific paper that Franke published as a student of chemistry and theoretical physics on a chemical discovery. It extends to the end of the 1990s. The manuscripts from the year 2000 onwards will be added in the near future.

The database of digitized manuscripts by Herbert W. Franke includes non-fiction texts on media art and art theoretical considerations as well as articles for art and computer journals on algorithmic and abstract art. There are contributions on the role of futurology and science fiction in society as well as popular non-fiction texts on topics from science and technology. Finally, there are contributions on cave research and Franke’s expeditions as well as various unpublished concepts. Some biographical texts also shed light on how the author and artist himself sees the connection between his three working worlds – art, science fiction and cave research – at different stages of his life. The search functions of the database are being developed now, the database is being optimized and further material from the Herbert W. Franke Archive will be added. It will then be embedded in the ZKM | Karlsruhe’s entire online search machine.

The Foundation would like to thank the artists of the Tribute to Herbert W. Franke. Their donations made it possible to finance the project at the ZKM | Karlsruhe. Special thanks go to Margit Rosen, Felix Mittelberger and Andreas Kohlbecker in particular for their ongoing efforts in setting up this database and the entire Herbert W. Franke Archive.

“It is finally possible to browse through Herbert W. Franke’s manuscripts, which were previously only available in analog form in folders,” says Susanne Paech, Chairman of the Foundation. “The works show the complexity of Franke’s thoughts, whose common thread was the search for new territory, be it in the world of caves, in the vastness of the cosmos or in technology and its utilization for art.”