Herbert W. Franke

Harry Yeff x Trung Bao Nguyen

By Herbert W. Franke, Harry Yeff (Reeps100) & Trung Bao

In 2021, Herbert W. Franke and Harry Yeff started a conversation about the concept of VOICE GEMS and an audio-visual collaboration. Franke suggested using the lyrics of ASTROPOETICON because they are a minimalist and associative approach to language that could have been created by an AI. These lyrics were frozen as gemstones, the VOICE GEMS ASTROPOETICON, created by Herbert W. Franke, Harry Yeff, Trung Bao and an AI. (The first three 1/1s have been minted and collected in 2021.)

The lyrics used for the VOICE GEMS ASTROPOETICON (DESTINATION IN UNCERTAINTY) belong to a cycle of 16 poems called ASTROPOETICON. Written by Franke in 1979 to be published in a book alongside artworks by German space artist Andreas Nottebohm, he voiced them on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 2007.

Every voice is unique, and with that comes unique fingerprint-like data that can be used for bespoke and human centered generative design. Harry Yeff (aka REEPS100) and Trung Bao have developed a voice-centered generative system utilizing data found in a human voice to synthesize the artworks’ form and color. Features like pitch, resonance, harmonics and pace sculpt 200 000 particle data points in a simulated digital space. The VOICE GEMS series is a vibrant, unprecedented meditation highlighting remarkable and influential voices. Each VOICE GEM is added to the VOICE GEMS: 1000 Year archive. 

Herbert W. Franke (1927–2022) was a pioneer of computer art who anticipated the metaverse. For several decades, he separated three lives: the caver and scientist; the artist and curator; and the science fiction author. In the early 1950s, caving led him to experiment with light and technology. He kept his curiosity throughout his life; it was his drive to examine new technologies for their artistic potential. His pioneering spirit made him one of the first computer artists who was more than six decades ahead of his time. In 1979, he co-founded Ars Electronica. Franke has been called “the most prominent German science fiction writer” by Die Zeit, and a “short story fireworker” by the FAZ. In 2022, his first NFT Drop MATH ART sold out within 30 seconds on Quantum, and he was the headliner at the Tezos Booth at Art Basel with MONDRIAN, a work from 1979. Herbert W. Franke died on July 16, 2022, at the age of 95, leaving behind an extensive oeuvre.

Presented by EXPANDED.ART in collaboration with art meets science – Foundation Herbert W. Franke and ELEMENTUM.ART on the occasion of Herbert W. Franke’s solo show CODED BEAUTY at EXPANDED.ART in Berlin. The art meets science – Foundation Herbert W. Franke will use their portion of the sales for a designated purpose: translating significant texts by Herbert W. Franke to English and making them publicly available.

Images courtesy Herbert W. Franke, Harry Yeff (Reeps100) & Trung Bao, EXPANDED.ART,  Foundation Herbert W. Franke and ELEMENTUM.ART.

Featured in POÈME SBJKT, an exhibition of works of literature both on and off the blockchain that enhance, reinvent, and reimagine the relationship between text and image, analog and digital, blurring and challenging the lines that seek to divide.

POÈME SBJKT was curated by theVERSEverse in partnership with L’Avant Galerie Vossen and took place at Librairie Métamorphoses from May 25 – July 15, 2023.


Destination in uncertainty
solar sail unfolded
ride on the ion beam
home port: beyond space and time
sensors, directed to the void
signals from the dark field
circuits on hold
ice crystals in the cells
veins without blood
memory wiped out
the past: obliterated
existence between dream and death
will there be an awakening?
will there be any hope?
in front: clouds and cosmic dust
behind it maybe
a galaxy
star systems, suns
planets bathed in warmth and light –
wake-up call from the tape
uncharted territory!
behind it, perhaps:
a void