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Tribute to
Herbert W. Franke
In Honor of the Dinosaur of Computer Art
by art meets science – Foundation Herbert W. Franke

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Mechthild Schmidt Feist

Shadow generator under a Blue Moon. Light drawing Generative Photography, Photo Print, 95 x 30 cm, 2022

Light drawings for a Renaissance Person

I got to know Herbert W. Franke in the computer graphics community of the 1980s – but admired him as a Renaissance person. His artistic work was inspired by his rich knowledge in physics, mathematics, electronics, speleology and literature.

My homage are light drawings with my camera as a pen.  These remind me of Herbert’s earliest work in the 1950s, generative photographs. Herbert started with light drawings and a camera, but then very quickly switched to computer-generated wireframes. But both methods are drawings with light. 

For my tribute, I use my light drawings as a basis for the final work. The title “Shadow generator” suggests automation and machines. Concurrently, a human shadow enters the scene of sun and moonlight. Inspired by an almost surreal astronomical event that turned day into night and projected double shadows, while birds fell quiet – this light drawing oscillates between poetics and warnings of the Anthropocene.


I work with poetic and political images in digital and public art environments. Sometimes they move, sometimes they are mapped onto Google Earth or onto a building.

My media art practice of many years is Engaged Media, combining art and advocacy on environmental and related social issues. My work advocates individual and grass-root action as a means to an empowered, positive approach to systemic change and a renewed relation to nature. By creating new visual relationships between individual and shared fates I hope to generate empathy, hope and empowerment.

I start with myself. Each of us can make a difference. I want art and culture and us humans to stay here for a bit longer.”