Fred Forest - Retrospective
Sociologic art - Aesthetic of communication
Exhibition Generative art - November, 2000
Exhibition Biennale 3000 - Sao Paulo - 2006
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Louis-José Lestocart English version
Louis-José Lestocart : l'oeuvre-système invisible ou l'O-S-I English version
Vinton Cerf English version
Priscila Arantes Curator of the exhibiton "Retrospective au Paço das Artes" English version
Michaël F Leruth English version
Evelyne Rogue French version
Annick Bureaud English version
Mario Costa English version
Jean Devèze English version
Vilem Flusser English version
Derrick de Kerckhove English version
Pierre Lévy English version
Marshall McLuhan English version
Pierre Moeglin English version
Frank Popper English version
François Rabate English version
Pierre Restany English version
Pierre Restany English version
Pierre Restany English version
Edgar Morin English version
Harald Szeemann English version
Sophie Lavaud English version
1 - Synthetisis note on the activities of Fred Forest
2 - Manifests Sociological Art (1974) and Aesthetics of the Communication (1983)
3 - The Aesthetics of the Communication by Fred Forest (1983)
4 - For an Aesthetics of Communication - Fred Forest
5 - The Video family by Fred Forest (1976)
6 - Learn to watch TV through the radio by Fred Forest and Pierre Moeglin (1984)   
7 - Why present his candidacy for President of the Bulgarian TV by Fred Forest (1991)


Of sociological art to the aesthetic of the communication

Mario Costa (Naples, March 1994)

Professor holder of the chair of Aesthetic at the University of Salerne (Italia)

The work of Fred Forest always results from a combinative of three fundamental factors: the advertising factor, the sociological factor, the aesthetic factor. These three components act differently according to the nature of the operations that he achieved and according to the different periods of his activity.

1) Forest understood, one of the first, that the universe of the information is henceforth entirely dominated by the media of mass communication. It makes close to twenty years, already, that he tempts desperately to make survive the art, trying to make assimilate it the shapes and the logic of the mass mediaÖ His operations take birth in the report of the inefficiency, as in the marginality, of the artistic microchips, to which they oppose strategies of widening of the devices of the art and its instruments.

It is about, always for him, to make always more efficient information and its strength of penetration. The basis concept of the " theory of information " affirms that the quantity of information contained in a signal is inversely proportional to the probability of the signal itself. A foreseeable signal and waited possesses a small quantity of information whereas at the contrary, an unused and unexpected signal possesses a great deal of information. The operations of Forest are always highly unlikely signals; in it, they are the vehicle of a great deal of information, provoking a growth of the attention and a widening of the contact specter. The white space in a newspaper (Le Monde, January 12, 1972), the emptiness in the television transmission (one minute of interruption in the middle of the TV News, TV 2nd French National Channel, 1972), the panels without writing in a demonstration (The white invades the city, São Paulo, 1973), a photograph through the intervention of the television (The photographed viewer, RTB, 1976), a telephone in close shot during ten minutes to the television (Celebration of the Present, Salerne, 1985)Ö These are all greatly unlikely signals that are going to mobilize and to wake up the attention of the public. From that point of view, the operations of Forest have a big advertising potential and Forest, himself, can appear like an advertising agent of a new kind. A kind of which the agencies of advertisement didn't glimpse all resourcesÖ Besides Forest could sell its ideas very well and could use them to make consume any products. At present, while waiting for an advertising finality that lingers obviously to come, his ideas are going to catalyze themselves in an informational tautology way. Informational tautology in which the operation makes the advertisement to itself and to its author. What contributes to reinforce the troubling aesthetic connotation that belongs to it.

Thus, we can assist to a kind of paradox: a "marginal" artistic practice that affirms its own "exteriority" in relation to the official circuits of the art; that functions like a reviving agent of these circuits that are themselves obsolete and marginal in the present universe of information. Of the way, it is the whole of the official system of the art that is going to appear as really "marginal", while in the artistic practice of Forest, overtly "marginal", it is necessary to see the ultimate tentative to recreate a system of the artistic communication more operational and adequate to the reality of our time.

2) To the basis of the socio-aesthetic operations of Forest, there is the widening of the "medium" concept. This concept propagates itself from the specifically technological domain to the vast domain of the "social". The society presents itself like a whole of devices that can be diverted in types of non usual working. By recourse to the simulation of the situations, the logic of the devices put in place (the Stock market of the Stock market of the imaginary of 1982; the mechanisms of purchase and sale of the artistic square Meter of 1977; the exposition of Mrs. Soleil to Galliera or the Biennial of the year 2000 of 1975; the politics and its speech of the Conference of Babel of 1983, etc.) pass by latent states, either revealed, that put in evidence the gratuity or the absurd of their mechanisms. The "socio-aesthetic game" of Forest is the contrary of the tragic part hired by terrorism against the institutions and the States, nevertheless we can consider that the logic that implies both things is identical. It is incredible to note how the academic and official sociology could ignore the high possibilities of renewal, through operations as those that Forest puts in work. One could say that Forest indicates to the sociology the way to construct authentic experimental situations, and provides very precious indications on the methodologies of research. Methodologies of research that would permit to overpass the sterile opposition between a sociology again inspired of positivism, frozen in traditional methods limiting itself to the questionnaires and the statistical, and a dangerously subjective sociology, or, worse again, literary, notably in France. Forest provides, to my opinion, the indications to make from the sociological research a practice rigorously experimental and yet inexhaustibly creative.

3) In the operations bound to the perspective of the "sociological art", the aesthetic quality resulted from the superposition of territories of heterogeneous signified: the procedures of intervention marked by the vanguards (from Duchamp to the Surrealism and to the Situationnists) applied to the social research, the "social" like a new support for the exercise of the creativeness, the solicitation to the involvement, the critique by the humor, the advertising tautology, the concept expressed like representation and settingÖ All this, and also other things, was united in the operations of Sociological art of Forest giving them an aesthetic quality at a time troubling and indefinable.

But, a few years ago, the activity of Forest changed considerably and the aesthetic quality of his creations refined itself, sometimes joining a purity all metaphysics. Sociology was again a level of surface that it was necessary to pass in the direction of the signified and of the anthropological structures (in search of the temporal absolute); the animation, the provocation, the moralismÖ contained in the operations of the "sociological art", are residues extra aesthetic that it was necessary to eliminate for the realization of a pure shape of aesthetics.

A presentiment of this new aesthetics already existed at Forest in his operation of 1973: "Rue Guénégaud Archeology of the Present". In this action, the public was invited in a gallery of art to observe, in direct television, the life that took place in the street. There is in this work conceptual and aesthetic implication that is already very different from those of the "sociological art" that paradoxically, yet, was going to affirm itself in the years that follows. Indeed, the operation " Rue Guénégaud Archeology of the Present" already challenges some notions as "space-time", "technological reality etc. Since October 1983, Forest returned to its first inspiration: the aesthetics of the Communication, to which he works with my contribution, on a theoretical level.

In conclusion, we note that the present anthropological situation is characterized by an absolutely new conjunction of the mind and the machine. The technologies of information of today returned without major interest the sociological level, while they created a new sensitivity and of the new shapes of space-time. The aesthetic operations, absolutely pure, must work with the formal structures of the communication and return sensitive this new human condition instituted by the electric and electronic technology. The actions of Forest (Here and now, 1983; Homage in Yves Klein, 1984; Celebration of the present, 1985) are some of the edifying testimonies.


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