Herbert W. Franke

Herbert W. Franke studied physics, mathematics and philosophy in Vienna and is the author of many science fiction stories and non-fiction books, especially on the topic of science and art – like generative photography. Between 1973 and 1997 he was professor for cybernetic aesthetics and computer art at the LMU and Academy of Art in Munich. Alongside Frieder Nake, Georg Nees and Ben F. Laposky he is considered one of the pioneers of digital (computer) art in the 1950s. Science and mathematics are the foundation of his art. In the 1950s, despite being one of the best known German speaking science fiction authors, he became an artist, starting with experimental photography and electronic imaging techniques. Franke started making his first oscillograms in the mid-1950s when he was a mathematician at Siemens in Erlangen (Germany) and had access to some of the most advanced computer technology of the time. At SCHEUBLEIN + BAK we present rare vintage prints from the series "Lichtformen" (light forms), 1953-1955, and analogue graphics from the series “Oszillogramme” (oscillograms), 1956-1961/62. For both of these series, Franke was operating analogue cathode-ray oscillographs in order to create aesthetic mathematical figures, which he subsequently photographed under long exposure. Therefore, these analog graphics are to be understood as the predecessors of digital computer graphics. Franke was mainly influenced by the emerging theory on generative aesthetics being taught at the Stuttgart school by Max Bense and his contemporaries. Bense defined generative aesthetics as an artificial production of “aesthetic states” which can be reproduced anytime by following the instructions of a clearly defined program.