Is it possible to be a puppeteer and a computer scientist, a speleologist and a science fiction author, in one person, and have all that interconnected somehow? There stood Herbert W. Franke, born in Vienna in 1927 and by now 95 years old, smiling at the exhibition of his computer-designed graphics, amused by the great response they generated. He died in July 2022, only a few weeks later. He was the young-at-heart dinosaur of computer art, born to a professor of electrical engineering, whom he followed faithfully with a dissertation on electron optics. The subtle difference that distinguished the young scientist from his colleagues was his aesthetic curiosity. He had access to the emerging first generation of computers in the laboratories of Siemens, and used it. While informal, gestural abstraction dominated artists’ studios in the 1950s, Franke was thinking of an art that could be scientifically grounded. In conversation he conveyed to me, “Aesthetic structures are those that optimize the processes of perception.”

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