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)




Under the generic title: " Fred Forest, President for the Bulgarian television: for an utopian and nervous TV" , I did a set of actions from 2d to 9th of October, 1991, in the urban and media context of Sofia. Sustained actively by the journalists of the opposition, whereas the Communist strengths, (renamed "socialist" modestly), always detained the levers of the power. I led there a real public campaign to solicit an official post. An official post to the highest level of the communication of a socialist state, because it was about, simply, the one of President general manager of the national television: BULGARSKA TELEVISIJA, the society of exploitation of BTV 1 and BTV 2, the two Bulgarian channels.

This post, besides, was not at all at the time vacant. This provocation aimed to anticipate in a way on the results to come from the next elections for the designation of the representatives in the Constituent assembly. Elections that should take place one week later. My successive passages the very day of my arrival in Sofia on the two national channels, at the strongest moments of audience, immediately made of me the inescapable adversary of the media, political power in place! This statute has been bestowed me by Mr. Ognan Saparev himself, president in function when, as unlikely as it can appear, it made announce by the speaker of the News "that he raised the challenge of Frenchman " for a face-to-face live! From now, my candidacy started on the hats of wheel. As artist of the communication an astonishing field of experimentation opened up before me. It is permissible to imagine, already, what such a situation can constitute in itself of exceptional to the title of a "singular personal adventure". I would like in this setting to tempt to write and to clarify how through such an experience, induced to the title of a new practice, new territories of the communication can be appropriate by the art, to produce the symbolic and the critical questioning.

If we wait retrospectively to analyze the continuation of the intervening events, it is to note that the action in relation to its initial finality, and to the script put in place to drive it, perfectly succeeded. The space of the Bulgarian information will have been subverted for one time by parasitic elements that, by contiguity contributed to divert the codes in place; again more meaningfully in that country. Well beyond Bulgaria, at this historic moment of the mutations that affect the countries of the East, my subject aimed an ingenuous way to question the use that is made of this tool that is called the television and that by one way or the other, models our societies, or even our minds. And in this moment where the systems of information are the object of multiple maneuvers of control, of power, of manipulation of the opinion, make the object of crisis and ethical questionings, to tempt to constitute a symbolic, original "object", taking body in the very structure of information.

The artistic parody of the political behaviors becoming, itself, an act of political communication act, written down in the space of the information. A space that is today, by the strength of the things, the principal field of exchanges, strategies and the political confrontations. In this experience, we made, in a deliberate way, of the place of information the place of the art! The one of the art, because, it was well, for us, of a symbolic production. Of course it is not quite the same thing that to give a piece of boulevard in a Parisian theater or a representation on the racial segregation in a street of Harlem. It is not either, precisely the same thing, to make a painting of rack, that to present his candidacy for the post of President general manager of the Bulgarian television...

I am minded to think that in any case quoted, to different levels, we always work with the imaginary, it is obvious that the direct implication to the real is not the same. The displacement of the codes, and in a way their parasitic, is always more interesting when sudden is born by a kind of contamination the uncertainty between what is of the order of the reality and what is a matter of the pure fiction... It is the coming and going from one to the other, in a distance that sometimes shrinks to the point to annul itself, that creates itself the pleasure of the receptor, his complicity, and sometimes his crisis of conscience.

It was very clear for people of my setting, and those of the Foundation Yanko Sakazov responsible for the preparation of my campaign there that this candidacy was of pure, symbolic range and challenging character. Besides, how would it be otherwise? I was French national, incapable to pronounce or to understand only one word of the Bulgarian language. My program, extensively distributed, affirmed without ambiguousness that I will immediately resign the gotten post. Donít forget it, I am an artist. I would be able to solicit the post of chief of the station of Perpignan as well. But because I am an artist of the communication, I had to pretend to the one of President of the Bulgarian TV! For the highest number of observers, there, and especially for the public of the media, it was difficult to make themselves an opinion on this curious "candidacy", that yet benefitted from two major assets: The one that confers, in Sofia, "the aura" of a title of "to be in charge of courses at the Sorbonne "... and the credibility that gave the recognition of the journalists of the opposition that sustained him.

It is useful to give, some information on the genesis of this candidacy. No one could believe that I decided to present me to the post of President of the Bulgarian TV following a sudden "revelation", as some decide, overnight, that they are Napoleon! No, it is a question of circumstances that always makes the thief. Simply the fortuitous meeting of Bulgarian journalists in the passageways of the Video Festival of Locarno. (1)

Journalists who had knowledge of my practice by information received in Berlin, some months earlier, on an achieved action between... Moscow and Paris by telephone. (2) Delighted, visibly, to meet the author of the first world musical creation, who had for setting the international telephonic network between the East and the West. Seduced by this artistic practice, Rossen Milev after a long discussion proposed to me in an enthusiastic impetus the realization of a "media event" in Sofia. Director of the magazine Balkan Medium he assured me the collaboration of a high number of press supports... Some months later he took contact with me. Considering the central position occupied again by the TV at that time, in the permanent polemic instituted between the opposition and the Communists, possessors of the power, Milev estimated that it was from this pole that himself had to develop our action. He was decided therefore that my action would consist in soliciting the post of President of the Bulgarian television! Initially, the operation fixed and prepared for December 1991, was reported following the demonstrations occurred at the university in a generalized climate of social tensions. It achieved ten months later, in the foreseen conditions.

When I apply for to the posts of the Bulgarian TV, to the highest level, it is quite obvious that the discounted success rests entirely on the capacity to invest the media space. On the good working of the device, elaborated in order to put in stage my candidacy in the space of information. While producing the events, while practicing a systematic diversion of the codes in use, we would make emerge a critical questioning of a quite unpublished shape in a country under the totalitarian model ascendancy. Some " strength ideas" and some signs selected would constitute the vocabulary of basis of this campaign to guarantee, at the same time, the provocation and the legitimacy: the promised Television will be "utopian and nervous". The candidate is not a politician. The candidate is not a bureaucrat. The candidate is not an administrator. The candidate is not a technocrat. The candidate is a "artist" of the media, of international renown. The candidate is of French nationality. The candidate doesn't have any link of relationship with President Mitterrand. The candidate will carry the pink glasses. The candidate will announce the date of his resignation the very day of his designation. At the time of his public apparitions, and to the television, the candidate will always be clothed of rock musician jacket made of black leather. The candidate is in charge of course at the Sorbonne. The candidate concerning television challenges the models of the East, as those of the West. It will be reduce the aimed subject to want to bring back this type of action to the level of the hoax. Certainly Coluche had already considered, in the setting of an electoral consultation in France, to solicit the supreme elysean post. Pressures of all orders dissuaded him quickly. Coluche, with his own genius, was before all an artist of varieties, who only saw there an opportunity, like another, to exercise his humor and his corrosive vivacity. The step engaged in Sofia doesn't aim the same goals. It essentially aims to subvert the systems, media to better reveal the mechanisms of it. It is a work and a praxis on the codes. A metacommunication on the communication that tends by his specific practice to question the working of information in our societies. This questioning doesn't operate with the help of conceptual tools, by an analysis and a theoretical speech but, by an action that plays on the situation, itself, live. By a diversion of the codes that play on several levels.

Retrospectively, what appears astonishing, it is the fact that the media power in place, incarnated by Saparev, himself to the summit, President of the Television Bulgarian, didn't smell the ruse, and that he hurried on the contrary, fallen head in the nets stretched by us... Since the day of my arrival in Sofia, that had been preceded of some information distilled by my friends journalists of the written press, I threw him the challenge of a face-to-face, live. Stated challenge at the time of my first conference, before the journalists, to the International Center of Press, I unveiled the contents at the same time my program for a new Bulgarian television: "utopian and nervous". Since 8 P.M. the pictures of this press conference were broadcasted in the newspaper of in the evening, commented by the star-announcer, Nery Terzieva, on the first BTV1 channel. At 10 P.M. it was to the turn of the second channel to give some information in its News broadcast. To the seen of these pictures the reaction of Saparev Ognan, under the influence of the impulse, was to pick up his direct line to call the writing. At the end of News, Nery Terzieva read a communiqué by which Ognan Saparev made know, officially: "that he raises the challenge of the Frenchman"... The following day, his setting became aware of his blunder. The representativeness of a French artist is not at the same level that the one of a President of the Bulgarian Television... Counseled by his director of cabinet, on different pretexts, he tempted to win time: journey in province, diplomatic flu, meeting of work with the... Chief of the State. The journalists of the opposition, on its traces, harassed it, without respite, so that he made know the day and the hour of the confrontation on the small screens. The press, in headlines, titled: "Saparev is afraid of the artist", "Saparev hides", "Saparev dreads the Frenchman". I imagine without pain the distinguished embarrassment of the services of the embassy of France to Sofia... Having heard of the project the Quai díOrsay (Foreign affairs) already tempted to dissuade me to engage this action. The pressure was hardly veiled. It emanated of a diplomat in post in Sofia, even before my departure of Paris. France negotiated at this time agreements on TV with Bulgaria, judged of first importance. My inopportune "action" risked to put them in peril. One dreaded a diplomatic incident that "would put all on the floor"! Interference of a French national in State affairs of a foreign State. Still elusive Saparev offered by its avoidance the best springboard to the dynamics of our campaign. The affair became national. Henceforth, it was impossible to me to circulate in the streets of Sofia without improvising a press conference on the sidewalk. The Frenchman by his repeated apparitions to the TV had become: "the cathodic icon with pink glasses!" to the eyes of the Bulgarian people!

The calendar that had been established for the campaign continued not less to take place according to the script written at the time of its preparation.

- Meeting with soccers on a stadium during an international match.

- Diner with a family-type at the hour of the prime-time.

- Meeting with intellectuals to the literary coffee of Sofia.

- Diner-debate to the restaurant of the press.

- Meeting with the union representatives of the audiovisual press.

- Tour in province, to the Plodiv, the second city of the country

- Duplex with the FIAC in Paris, to give information, in direct, of the development of my campaign for an utopian television...

- Visit of courtesy to the orthodox community at the Monastery of Patchko

- Debate to the university, to the department of political sciences with the students etc.

My displacements and my consultations, at a wild rhythm, had for advantage to maintain the pressure in the media. Saparev, invisible, made resurgence by an astonishing and perfectly incongruous initiative: Thursday October 8, breaking his muteness, het made known that he waited for me to lunch in one of the best restaurants of Sofia... If the day before, I had answered with pleasure similar invitation of Mikhail Petkov chief of the Democratic Social Party and leader of the opposition forces, it was not conceivable that I go to sit at the table of Saparev. The maneuver seemed quite coarse to me. I saw, already, the following day, in the Bulgarian press, our photo,: The hand of Saparev on my shoulder! Saparev, napkin to the neck waiting for me, inside, in company of his cabinet chief. I asked Katia Vladimirova, journalist, to be my spokeswoman. She would make know to Saparev that I was coming to Sofia to catch his post, that I didn't have anything against his person, but that I won't get sit to his table only if he communicated to the public, date and hour of our face-to-face, in direct, foreseen to the television! On the sidewalk, through the steamy window, I could see his chief of cabinet agitate his both arms, like a semaphore. Red of anger, his indignation expressed without restraint: "It was the first time that similar affront was made to a President in exercise". To dare to put some conditions before sitting down to his table constituted an unspeakable injury. Saparev, frozen in his three pieces "soviet" gray, didn't have visibly any right to the speech. From this moment the events hurry. I return by ambulance, all howling sirens to the head office of the television to put back a letter made public by which I take act of the avoidance of Saparev. The members of the video team that follow me since the first day have all donned of the blouses... of nurses for the circumstance. The letter mentions that "the power of the imagination will always be above the political power, the language of wood, and the bureaucracy". I follow in the streets of Sofia an itinerary that brings me to the Parliament. It is about, in a way, of an election campaign trailer. Perched on the roof of a car, I greet the crowd.

My crew: riders on their settings that wave antennas of television. Returning on a television stage to record a programmed for a longtime broadcast I refuse to participate: my guests have been changed, replaced by perfectly unknown people, but of which there is no mystery of their political adherence. My friends take me to part on the stage. Some precise information have been communicated to them: They are incapable, henceforth, to assure my security. I must leave, as soon as possible for Paris, in the twenty four hours by the first plane!

Tuesday October 8, before a high number of journalists, I draw up the balance of my campaign. The meeting has been organized in the local of the International Center of Press. It will be my last press conference before my departure for the airport. First of all, changing alternately of place, on all sides of the table, I simulate the face-to-face that won't have had place finally. There is in the room several people who occupy posts of first plan on the two national channels, also of very numerous journalists who have been dismissed by Saparev. Then I reaffirm the principles founding of an utopian and nervous "television". Here below, some excerpts:

"For the first time, since my arrival in Sofia I am going to remove before you these pink glasses that made me famous until in the most far countries... At the time of leaving for Paris I am going to deliver you my true face. To be quite clear on the mind that governed this candidacy I must to specify the following facts:

Being, nor a technocrat, nor an administrator, nor even less a politician, or an entrepreneur of press, I solicited this post in my quality of artist of the communication, and solely to this title. It is why breaking with the admitted uses I proposed since my nomination to institute of straightaway, and in an irreversible way, the utopian, creative, interactive and nervous television of tomorrow.

Such was the repeated slogan, all along my campaign. I noted well that your television was in crisis and that the task that waited for me would not be restful. A lot of televisions are throughout the world in crisis. The action that I undertook, here, aimed, under the pretext of the Bulgarian television, to question, beyond this country, what makes the man today of this extraordinary tool? How does he use it? What are the stakes of it? the perspectives? Its function to the service of the humanity, to the threshold of the third millennium? It is to the Bulgarian, of course, to adjust their own problems. Besides, they will make it next Sunday at the time of the elections while going at the urns. I don't have a lesson to give them. You understood as I leave toward my own life, in France, that the post of President General of the Television was not important for me. My mission is filled. What is important, it is what we achieved in these some days, together: a symbolic event, an exemplary media action that interrogates in the media the working of the media. At the same time, a call to the imagination of which the place of broadcast will have been Sofia in the year 1991. Sofia at this historic moment where the world topples, because such an action would not have made sense, nor in Paris, nor in Tokyo, nor to New York. When the former systems collapse and where the world searches for its new values, the creation and the hope must take their right. My campaign to solicit this post, and even my pink glasses, have only for goal to agitate the ideas, to open a debate on the role that should play the media and the television in a society said of communication that opens up on the 21st century. We came to Sofia to work in this sense. To make sense. The artists make sense according to a tried technique that is their own: to practice the derision in an ocean of non sense, to recover the sense. In spite of the appearances, candidacy will never have been as serious. Mr. Saparev, and the bureaucracy that secreted it, were not able to seize it. Such an attitude is located outside of the political logic that structures his mental horizon. What counts is what happened, here, in the week. What counts, these are the symbols. The symbols, also, are weapons. My candidacy was a symbolic act that would become meaningful to the eyes of the world.

For the unconditional support to my candidacy, I thank the Internationale Association of the men and the women of imagination, the Body of the firemen of Oise, the Philharmonic Orchestra of New York, the team of soccers of the Ajax of Amsterdam, Mr. Smith dentist and viewer to Bristol, UK, the chief of the police of the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland, the brother-in-law of the President of the French Republic, Neil Armstrong cosmonaut, André Breton and his friends, the anonymous person who addressed me a telegram of support of South Africa, the Circle of the cavalry officers at the retirement of Liepzig, the Amicale of the television Presidents general managers dismissed these last years. I don't thank three people: Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, President Khadafi.

Since last October, after this odd and flaming campaign at a time, some months passed... The opposition won the elections of a short advance. Strength is to note that the "utopian and nervous" television is put back sine die, in Bulgaria, as elsewhere. Like what, it is not sufficient to raise pink glasses to become in Bulgaria the President of the national Television, nor even the one of a private channel in France... That one tells it!


December 1991


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