This screenprint, by Herbert W. Franke (born 1927, Austria), is from a photograph of the screen of a cathode-ray oscilloscope. Oscilloscopes produce electrical signals that are displayed visually on the fluorescent screen of a cathode ray tube. Franke worked with a simple analogue computer, designed by physicist Franz Raimann, which was connected to the oscilloscope. The artist used the computer to manipulate and direct the electronic signal, or beam, and overlapped the forms that appeared in real-time by using a mixing console. The only means of recording these images at the time was to photograph the screen, which was only 5 cm wide. From the image, the artist produced this screenprint some years later. Artists began experimenting with producing graphical images using oscilloscopes in the 1950s and 1960s, and they are considered a precursor to computer art.
Herbert W. Franke is a pioneering figure in the history of computer art. In 1971, he produced one of the first accounts of computer art entitled ‘Computer graphics - Computer art’. In 1979, he co-founded the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria, an annual event that combines art and technology. Franke is also well known as a successful author of science fiction novels.