Fred Forest - Retrospective
Sociologic art - Aesthetic of communication
Exhibition Generative art - November, 2000
Exhibition Biennale 3000 - Sao Paulo - 2006
> Editorial
> Artworks/Actions
> Criticism
> Biography
> Bibliography
> Synthetic note
> Retrospective online
> Audio conference
> Videos

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)


From the sociological art to the aesthetic of the communication, a humanism of mass

Pierre Restany (Paris, November 1994)

Critical of art

To the term of a course already old of 25 years, and that I tried to follow ab ovo so to speak, my reflection on the immense work accomplished by Fred Forest takes a dimensio more and more deep, structural, exemplar. Fred Forest, appeared on the panorama of the artistic questioning at the time when Europe and America, industrialized Occident lived its big crisis of structure, itís to say in May 68. Today, we know very well that May 68 was not the simple crisis of a youth opposite his culture and the way of which one communicated to him this culture, but the forerunner symptom of a radical change of society and system of production. Itís at that moment that the communication changed of sense, or rather acquired a new conscience of its territory, its autonomy, its critical virtue and its virtue of awakening, concerning the society in general, concerning the largest public. The role of the communication and of its instruments, of its technological means, played a fundamental and determinant role in this passage from a modern industrial society to the postmodern postindustrial society.

The intervention of Fred Forest is precisely contemporary of this acceleration of the history of the media. And itís moreover by a phenomenon pure and simple of appropriation that he gets involved in this adventure of the sociological. He becomes a pioneer of the video art in France, and the mastery of this extremely mobile means allows him to intervene on different social groups. Very quickly, considering increasing interest that the society in transition takes about the social relation in its whole and in its extreme points, the active reflection of Fred Forest is going to put itself on the very nature of the social environment, its structure, and itís then, to the term of a whole set of contacts and research, because the ideas were in the air in the beginning of the years 70, that the Collective of sociological art was born. More precisely its hard core that, in 1974, comes off a nebulous of personalities and some types of thoughts that were collateral, if I could say, since they went from the body-art to interventions of predatory type or appropriative type of the social context. The three members of the Collective of sociological art are bound together, that means Fred Forest, Hervé Fischer and Jean-Paul Thenot, by exactly the will of a rigor in their theory as in their practice: itís the whole of the devices or methods of intervention on the social that constitutes the structural reality of their actions and their thoughts. In this sense, they adopt, evidently, a very rigorous position from a technical view point.

The passage of the sociological art to the aesthetic of the communication, that will materialize at Fred Forest toward the years 83, puts the level of thoughts to a superior level. I say well superior because there is no fracture in the evolution of the thought of Fred Forest, but only a logical continuation, a fundamental adaptation to the communication, on one side that is characterized in the years 80 as mean of investigation of the real more and more complex and more and more fluid and also as a territory more and more sensitive to human in the social. When Fred Forest speaks of aesthetic of the communication, he speaks of it in a sense that is certainly as moral as aesthetic, and in fact, he puts the problem of a true morals, itís to say of a philosophy of the action that would be conceived in aesthetic terms. This aesthetics, for Fred Forest seems fundamental and especially very meaningful of his high lucidity in the instant. The communication is a matter of aesthetic insofar as its message is conceived not as "beautiful" but as "truth". And this truth must be discerned as naturally truthful in the public to the level of the highest number.

Itís this passage that was fundamental in the years 80: from the beautiful of canonical aesthetic to the truth. To the truth of the artistic sociology, itís to say to the truth that is not the produce of the logic of evidence, but a truth that borrows to the techniques of the communication all structural elements that allow him to build a system. A system of appearances that aims to a definition of the truth. If the truth is appearance, it doesn't represent itself, it presents itself. And the aesthetic of the communication corresponds exactly to this passage from an art of the representation to an art of the presentation.

The aesthetic activity of Fred Forest in the communication consists in assuming his systems, his devices of presentation of the real, fully. So that these systems of presentation of the real adhere completely to the reality, it is necessary for that that they are truthful, probable and conceived and discerned like such by the whole of the spectators-actors. This result is obtained that insofar as, the truth of the real, the reality of the communication at Fred Forest takes the dimension and the allure of a real a little truer than nature. And this supplement of soul, if I can say, in the communication that provokes the soldering between the real and the reality. Itís a fundamental point at Fred Forest and itís the goal to which stretch all his devices, the whole way of which he conjugates his most magic devices, even and especially, those where the technological manipulation allows to the image or his own image to reverberate in different places simultaneously, creating so a dimension of ubiquity in the space-time.

All these processes have the tendency to establish this dimension pf a truth a little truer than nature that defines all intervention of Fred Forest. One can say from the moment Fred Forest fully assumed his dimension of protagonist of the sociological: he had it already in germ this sense of the truth, because his work ensues from it, but I believe that the big difference, the big step cleared in 1983 is the one of a conscience nearly modular of the phenomenon, of this sense of a truth truer than nature. Itís very important in that way that Fred Forest intervenes on the space-time of an essentially fluid material that is the one of the communication, itís also a way of definition of the time by its opposite that is the time of the oblivion.

The problem of the memory in the work of Fred Forest is omnipresent. Omnipresent in his flight. The interventions of Fred Forest affirm the truest truth than nature of a situation or of an extremely prompt moment in the social relations. Once this truth is expressed, that the click took place, then the time flees. The work of Fred Forest donít exist objectively, physically, that thanks to a fundamental artifice. An artifice that he grants the nature of the media to which he resorts. This artifice itís the lightning and ephemeral stop of the time. The objective side of the work of Fred Forest is bound to the fundamental notion of the permanence of a present time. This permanence is fleeing. It exists the time of its revelation, to the eyes of Fred Forest, and also to the eyes of the other, to the eyes of those that feel concerned at the time of the action. And then it rubs out, if rubs out in a necessary and sufficient way, because the memory of the communication is made exactly to be fluid, to seize different moments and to pass from one moment to the other. There are no permanent archives of the communication. Because this memory has only the formal appearances of a memory. The communication donít have memory, it "evidences" aspects of the social present and it evidences with more cleanness than the moment of evidence is brief.

I think that Fred Forest is again extremely conscious of the fact that today itís the writing that is the memory and itís the screen that is the oblivion. Hence certainly his will to write, to write this book, " 100 actions ", that brings a fascinating set in its diversity and in its quantity, of all prompt elements of the memory of the sociological interventions. It will remain, probably, of this book a canvas, itís to say a way of reference plot, this is not an index in itself. There is no other index that these essential signs of a truer truth than nature that stakes out all the extremely rich work of the aesthetician of the communicationÖ

Fred Forest poses a problem and it is exemplary. He is certainly the artist that knew how to sense, at the exact moment where put themselves these problems, the importance of the communication, not like a set of systems intended to fear the real, but like a volume, an autonomous territory where the auto-expressivity normalizes itself to contact of other actors in a same social situation. And I think, indeed, that itís for Fred Forest the constant occasion, constantly renewed, to show his normality in the indifference. Because Fred Forest is doubly indifferent, itís to say radically differentÖ He is so in relation to the so-called "classic" artists who continue to paint on the rack, for example, using the suitable oils, the corresponding colors, and he is as different/indifferent in relation to the pure and simple specialists of the information. This normality in the difference, it is characterized by, what seems to me to be the highest quality of Fred Forest, his approach of the human. There is in all his devices of interventions, in all his simulations of the real, a fundamental dimension of the human that situates him to equal distance of the artist and the specialist of the communication. The adventure of Fred Forest depends on this register of the human. From a human that one reaches by different techniques borrowed from the modes of the communication but that will have no real sense if they were destined to record solely such or such situation. The humanity at Fred Forest is interactive. It corresponds to a necessity, to an extremely strong desire to make participate people to the operation. It also corresponds to a certain type of humanism of the highest number that is based on the dignity, love of the Man. And I think that the best proof of this emotional humanism itís exactly the answer of the public to the questionings, to the stimulation of Fred Forest. All this devices of interventions collect a positive echo and drag a nice current of joining of mass, without reticence. The echo of the device of Fred Forest is without comparison with most systems of communication, as besides with a lot of artistic messages. And, itís where intervenes again the paradox of the space-time, the true artistic territory of Fred Forest is the space -time of oblivion. Itís sufficient to refer to his bibliography to realize what were the reverberations of each of his actions and God knows if they are numerous. And in the same time, people make themselves a very schematic idea of Fred Forest, and that often doesn't go even to the end of the things. He is a species of adventurer that slaloms on the opposite and antagonistic strands of the communication, of the advertisement, of the journalism and of an experimentation of artistic type. I simply believe that this paradox is the effect of a intern logic to the very work of Fred Forest. He plays the game, indeed, on the two strands. He plays without reticence and with, once again, the demonstration that he has of this love of the Man, because what counts for Fred Forest itís, I think, to be in harmony with himself, and especially to consider that his step is not free, that it hasnít for finality such or such memory, or such or such recording, but that its finality is precisely to operate on this supplement of soul in the human action that provokes the abrupt stop of the time that is the fact of his intervention. This love of the Man that he finds in the permanent present time of his actions. And if we on can say that Fred Forest is a beautician of the communication, itís exactly by reference to a active principle of humanism of mass. The notion of a communication whose difference is normalized by the love of the Man sublimates the style of Fred Forest: it will be more and more capital as we will change of culture, of civilization with our new postindustrial society project. It is likely that the plottings between the writing and the memory and those of the screen and the oblivion will probably change of sense, of shape and of dosage. In the more and more fluid perspective of the postmodern communication, Fred Forest will make face of pioneer again insofar as he knew how to adapt himself to the change of the time.

In this acceptance of the oblivion, one feels to stand out like another dimension of the human conscience. Within the galloping technologies, as the technical process reaches of the zones of fascinating immateriality, but so dangerous for a balance of the conscience, then it is indispensable that the Man remains to the heart of all this evolution and of the science in general. The humanism of mass of Fred Forest allows us this great hope.

Yves Klein had foreseen the big adventure of the immaterial and was himself risked in the emptiness. The emptiness of Klein is the emptiness of a alchemical truth that it is also a little truer than nature. To the heart of the emptiness, in this emptiness full that is the one of the cosmos and the inter-sidereal space, the one of the foundation of universe, in this emptiness, said usually Yves Klein, "there is a fire that shines and a fire that burns". This metaphor would also be able to apply to the great adventurer of the communication that is Fred Forest. He knows that at the heart of the immaterial emptiness of the communication, there is a fire that shines, itís the one of the present time of the intervention and there is a fire that burns, itís the one of the oblivion. Personally, I found a great hope in the step of Fred Forest, insofar as I think that the second phase of his work and his reflexive thought, his aesthetics of the communication opens on a fundamental humanism of mass that is the key of our own terrestrial and cosmic salute.

Pierre Restany


Presentation | Exhibition | Reflection | News | Contact

Copyrights Fred Forest