Herbert W. Franke (1927-2022) was a pivotal figure in bridging the gap between art and science. He was a scientist, author of science fiction, curator, mathematician, physicist, and speleologist. He was a co-founder of Ars Electronica in 1979. Franke has been called “the most prominent German science fiction writer” by Die Zeit, and a “great storyteller” by the FAZ. He also developed a rational theory of art. As a writer, he has been a pioneer of virtual worlds since 1960 – with his first work DER GRÜNE KOMET (Goldmann, Munich). In addition, he pioneered cave research with the dating of stalactites, with which he was also able to reveal significant information about climatology since the last ice age.
As early as 1957, Franke proved in a book entitled ART AND CONSTRUCTION (Verlag F. Bruckmann, Munich) that technology “opens up undreamed-of new artistic territory”. Franke has consistently explored new territory with analytical methods and the assistance of machines for over 70 years, looking into the future of digital art until he arrived in the metaverse as an artist and curator in the early 2000s. He began experimenting with generative photography in 1953, used an analogue computer in 1954, and the first mainframe computers for his abstract algorithmic art in the 1960s and 1970s, before beginning programming himself in 1980 with one of the earliest Apple IIs.