The Francisco Carolinum in Linz, Austria, is presenting a new exhibition titled “Herbert W. Franke: Visionary,” which coincides with the artist’s 95th birthday. The exhibition spans over seven decades of the artist’s oeuvre, showcasing his relationship between art and science.
Primarily a theoretical physicist that took great interest in art through the lenses of physics. Franks is the most important representative of information aesthetics and computer art and the co-founder of "ars electronica" in Linz, he dedicated his work to the question of how scientific imaging systems and technical apparatuses are related to art and aesthetics.
Images: Installation images from VISIONARY. Courtesy of OÖ Landes-Kultur GmbH
The exhibition starts with Franke’s first generative photographs created as early as 1952, as well as presents works from his abstract algorithmic works, which are based on mathematical principles. A pioneer of his time, Franke’s “Z-Galaxy”; which is a collaboration with Susanne Päch and located in the metaverse; an area of changing exhibitions on the internet platform Active Worlds.
In addition to the artworks presented at the Francisco Carolinum, the audience is re-introduced to his publications (he wrote in total 1,800 essays in his life). Franke is an award-winning science fiction and technical writer.
On the occasion of the exhibition’s opening, a Talk titled “Back to the Future” was organised were the curators Susanne Päch and Genoveva Rückert together with Rafael Rozendaal, Georg Bak, Christa Sommerer and moderated by Anika Meier, discussed the potential of digital art, some highlights follow below.
Image: Panel discussion “Back to the Future”. Courtesy of OÖ Landes-Kultur GmbH
“Herbert is not an artist, at the beginning he studied physics, so he's a physicist and i think that's very important to understand - how he's looking to art because as a physicist you are working with machines, because without machines you can't understand what's happening in physics and in nature. Second you are trying to understand how physics is functioning, that means you are looking for patterns and you are trying to bring them into a formalistic language and that's the language of mathematics, so that's the point as a physicist and that's the same as an artist." —Susanne Päch
Image: Georg Bak at the panel discussion “Back to the Future”. Courtesy of OÖ Landes- Kultur GmbH
The art consultant and curator; specialized in digital art, NFTs and generative photography, Georg Bak has said:
“We (former gallery SCHEUBLEIN + BAK) were looking at the roots of where digital photography comes from and started to discover Gottfried Jäger's work and Franke, who was actually even a mentor for Gottfried Jäger’s (...) I recently did also an exhibition in Zurich, I was first more interested in the oscillograms because of the photography side of it, but looking at his oeuvre, this is quite amazing compared to other pioneers of Computer Art you can always see a shift in technology, so he's been always picking up the newest technology whether it's the metaverse, plotter drawings or Mathematica so it's quite amazing that his style also changed with each new technology. There're many books you can read so it's a huge universe that he built; the science fiction books are quite unique for an artist. You are basically not just an artist, but also a writer, a theorist, a science fiction author.” —Georg Bak
Image: Kevin Abosch at the panel discussion “Back to the Future”. Courtesy of OÖ Landes-Kultur GmbH
"You cannot deny the power of nostalgia and that the work itself is now like in our DNA. Whether we like it or not, it's embedded in our psyche, it's part of the cultural fabric, the cultural landscape is so full of the fruits of what he (Franke) seeded." —Kevin Abosch