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)



Although someone already affirmed that the war was a too serious thing to let it to the only hands of the soldiers, no one could take advantage of such an affirmation, in the name of a logic of the absurd, to contest to the advertising agents, to the journalists and to the specialists of the profession the legitimate right to take care of communication... By way of consequence, either, anyone couldnĂ­t risk to refuse to the artists the liberty to "do odd jobs" on this land. A liberty and a pleasure that we applied, for our part, to practice since a certain number of years with a lot of perseverance. Besides, we showed enough persistence in this orientation to benefit, today, with the recognition of the university, of the respectability that we were in right to hope, as just reward of our industrious efforts... The sought-after goal consisted in putting at the disposal of a public composed by all the listeners of ten local radios, an unique program. Program animated by myself, inventor of the project, and by Pierre Moeglin who assured the preparation of it, with me, all along the different phases. October 19, 1984, from 7 P.M. to 10 P M., the public was invited to a continuous experience that had for object the critical analysis and a playful involvement on the pictures distributed by the French TV. The game proposed to the listeners consisting, in the circumstance, to watch the programs of the three channels alternately and following the indications, to jump from one to the other, at the same time as they would listen to the commentaries in direct that would be given to them on the radio: according to a principle that the viewers amateurs of sport practices fluently, on the occasion of some matches, coupling the pictures of their TV with the commentaries of it by their favorite journalist that assures the broadcast, on such or such radio. Concerning local radios it is always so hazardous to advance some numbers about the real audience, we can consider in the present case that it was between 30 000 and 50 000 listeners. On the other hand it was comfortable to note, to this opportunity, that this kind of listeners is characterized by a strong degree of implication and a important rate of involvement, if one believes the data that have been communicated to us by each radio after the broadcast.

Mode of working:

1. The general broadcast takes place as public broadcast. It achieves in direct from one bus-studio installed on the square of the Grand Palais (Paris) the day of the inauguration of the FIAC (International Fair of Contemporary art).

2. The general broadcast sent by specialized telephone lines toward the antenna of every local radio that distributes it in continuous, passes in transit, nevertheless, by the studio of this one what allows the animator's intervention to my demand.

According to the dedicated formula by SVP each among them, in turns, makes a synthesis, station by station.

3. The commentaries on the pictures are assured from the bus-studio that is, also, a stage placed facing the public that penetrates in the Grand Palais. These commentaries are, to the seen of the pictures, done in direct by a set of programmed guests that intervene by successive groups that replace themselves on the tray. The choice of these guests was made according to their domain of expertise. It is about "specialists" of the media: academic specialized in the communication, various journalists, institutional and administrative responsible persons...

4. By telephonic return the listeners, themselves, are invited also to produce this commentary. Installed in their lounge between the television and their transistor, the telephone to the hand, they also appear on the antenna. In a way, they represent the general public opinion that alternates with the opinion of the specialists... To intervene on the general antenna they call in a first time the standard of their own radio that places them in situation of waiting before recovering them on the telephonic standard of the bus-studio before the Grand Palais.

The rhythm and the progress of the common broadcast, sent by the ten radios, are orchestrated all along the experience by me. I give, alternately, the order to the control to topple on the antenna: the present guest commentaries on the tray, the interventions of the listeners, the sound of the broadcast TV in progress...

At the beginning of the experience the listeners have been invited to light on their television for the receipt of the pictures but to cut the sound of it.


Some believed to see in our action " Learn to watch TV with your radio... ()" a new way to celebrate "the present instant". We must well confess our fascination for these astonishing media Mass to which invites us the technologies of communication when they give us to live, to the neck-and-neck, in "the immediate" the force of the event, its irreducible contigency. Definitely, there is something that raises of the "metaphysical" and the "religious" at the mythical hero Armstrong when he advances, of his uncertain and clumsy step, on the denuded ground of the lunar star. But beyond the ritual put in stage on the cathodic screen, it is the phenomenon of the instantaneousness of the situation that upsets our sensitivity of contemporary individual. A instantaneousness shared somewhere on the media, out of the time and out of the space, by millions viewers. Situation that addresses in a very direct way to our deep sense of aesthetics. This fundamental aspect of the communication could not let indifferent and foreign the artists in this domain. Let's underline, that in the daily uses of the communication, the artist, by turn of mind, will be minded to carry his attention on the marginal sides of this one that will seem to him, finally, of his point of view, more remarkable and more worthy of interest! The failures, the stammerings, the slips, the skids, the ruptures of the communication will constitute his privileged field of observation, reflection and action. The breakdown that affects sudden the broadcast in direct of the Elysée is obviously more essential, in itself, that everything that the French President could say. More essential insofar as the emptiness created constitutes a way of "time recovered" that restores us to ourselves.


The artist endeavors by the practice, in the limits of the means of action that are his, to introduce in the channels of communication a few variations whose calculated aberration will have for objective to reveal, if possible, other fashions of working. In it the artist, faithful to his first vocation, appears like a "inventor" of models, even though in a first time his propositions are only interpreted by the society as emanation of the utopia, will of free provocation and fruit of a suspected imagination.

To come from it to our action "Learn to watch TV with your radio..." we are going to tempt to describe the device of it. Bringing some elements of explanation that permit to seize the working of it. We are convinced that what counts, in the first place, it is less the media itself that the way of which one uses it and organizes it to exploit it in systems. To have never experimented it for lack of curiosity, the man ignores all of what he could have pulled, for example, of a vacuum cleaner and a sewing machine gathered in a hybrid function... The nature, on the other hand, already taught us everything that we could wait reasonably for the possible combinations of mating between the donkey and the horse. To simplify our explanation, and to summarize to the extreme, we will say: we wanted, for our part, to know what would result from the marriage of a television and a radio set! This experience is added to the list, and completes it, of all those that we achieved in the past mingling the art and various media (press, radio, TV, video, telephone, etc.). Its preparation will have confirmed me, once again, how much it is difficult to convince the "possessors of the media" to enter into actions of research that imply their own support of communication. In their reticence to make it, one discovers at a time the prudence, the distrust in relation to initiatives of which they badly seize the profit to withdraw, the pure and simple indifference! This preparation also gave us the opportunity to note brutal turn back. What was the case of France Inter in the person of its representative Jacques Pradel that, overnight, after eight months of common work decided one-sidedly to annul the project, without taking the pain to provide us the least explanation. Probably a time of maturation has been necessary to become aware, suddenly, that this type of project and his critical implications didn't match with the soothing tone in which bathes his broadcasts...



The generic title of our action is very explicit in itself on our intentions. The proposition is clear: it consists in inviting the listeners of ten free radios, gathered, to light their televisions and, making that, to continue, not less, to remain attentive to the commentary produces by the radio. Commentary exercising itself on the pictures, with the progression of their apparition on the screen. This idea has been inspired to me by the practice of some viewers that during the retransmission of a match of football borrows the pictures to the TV and the sound to the radio... Widening this practice to other types of broadcast, it is comfortable to seize immediately in the implementation of such a system how the radio nourishing a critical commentary can become, in real time, an extraordinary instrument of analysis of the television medium under working: A lesson of things applying to reveal us the significance, live, of the "objects-imaginary". It is what we tempted to make with Pierre Moeglin during a broadcast, created for the circumstance, taking place without interruption from 7 P.M. to 10 P.M. from a bus-studio installed on the roadbed of the Grand Palais at the occasion of the inauguration of the International Fair of Contemporary Art. Guests: journalists and academic specialists of the media follow each other during three hours, reacting on the images, in alternation with the listeners intervening on the antenna by telephonic return ().

Our broadcast adjusts itself on the TV programs of the evening, jumping from a channel to the other according to the menu composed by our cares. Surely, the News will constitute the piece of resistance, but the presence of the Bernard Pivot, Julio Iglesias and other stars on the antennas will contribute to throw back the appetites... Three axes structure our basis concept from which the deliriums of an improvisation will be able to develop themselves that are part of the very parameter of the experience:

- an educational axis confided to specialists of the picture. To them the charge to put in evidence the importance of the justification, the angle of shot, the rhythm of the sequence, to demonstrate, in the stride, how finally the significance of all picture produced is tributary of its shape of production;

- A reflexive and critical axis calling the present guests, but also the listeners, to comment the products that the three French channels propose to them;

- finally a playful axis calling on the imaginary of the public, inviting him to practice the systematic diversion of sense, superimposing to the pictures presented the pure fantasy commentaries.

It would be presumptuous to pretend that such an experience of punctual character could change truly our way to consume the TV. It would be false to declare that it remains nothing of it! Between these two affirmations, be patient: let's open our eyes, let's stretch our ears, let's activate our neurons. One day, we will end up well understanding that we are ourselves a transistor!

Fred Forest

December 1984


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