Herbert W. Franke and Casey Reas in dialogue

Friday 13th May, 2022 - Bruce Sterling

*What a pleasure to read this.  So historic!




Herbert W. Franke celebrates his ninety-fifth birthday on May 14. Trained as a theoretical physicist, he approached art as an experimental practice aimed at understanding the fundamental nature of perception. His earliest generative works of the 1950s employed analog techniques—photographing illuminated wires and film strips, or the activity of a cathode ray oscillograph—to produce austere and beautiful abstractions. In the late 1960s he began exploring the use of digital computers to make plotter drawings and interactive software art. Below, Franke reflects on the evolution of the field he pioneered in conversation with Casey Reas, a key figure in generative art from a younger generation. Like Franke, Reas has not only innovated in terms of forms and tools, but also encouraged new developments in art and technology by producing publications, events, and platforms for others. Franke conceived art software for the primo home computer; Reas cocreated Processing, an educational tool and a sketchbook for artists who use code. Franke was one of the founders of Ars Electronica, the leading festival of media art, in 1979; last year, Reas established Feral File, an NFT platform organized around online exhibitions. Both artists value dynamism and fluidity both as essential qualities of computer art and as ways for audiences to experience the possibilities of creative coding. Their conversation was conducted via a shared document with assistance from Franke’s wife, Susanne Paech…