ANIKA MEIER | LOST FUTURES
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"Leave your eyes behind. You will see the invisible. You will feel infinity. You will no longer count hours. No more measuring. There is nothing to consider. There is nothing to decide. There's nothing left to do. It was a beautiful day today."
– Herbert W. Franke, ZONE ZERO, 1972
I am late to the Tribute to Herbert W. Franke. One year too late. Herbert (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. We met in early 2022 through a joint friend, museum director Alfred Weidinger. After returning from my visit to Munich, I went back to Herbert’s writing. He has been called "the most prominent German science fiction writer" by Die Zeit and a "great storyteller" by the FAZ. I agree. I started reading his novels again. ZONE ZERO from 1972 was the first one that came to mind.
"Leave what burdens you behind. A cloud absorbs you. A bowl of warmth. A handful of sympathy. A touch of oblivion. There is no past and no future…"
Words like these stuck with me, as did the images my mind created after reading the story for the first time. Two civilizations coexist independently. One over ground, one underground. A group travels to ZONE ZERO to learn more about the other civilization’s existence and finds a highly constructed environment beneath the sea surface. They find humans, mutants, and cyborgs.
AI can turn writing into the images a writer has in their mind when writing words. I have always wished this were possible. AI makes it possible. I can only speculate about the images Herbert had in his mind when he wrote ZONE ZERO. For me, this book was the point of departure for imagining a world in which humans don’t change locations anymore but live in a projection that is as good as reality. In Herbert’s words:
"If there is access to all information, changes in location are unnecessary. The projections are as good as the reality."