• fr
  • en
1972 à 1974

Les gestes avec la participation théorique de Vilém Flusser

Vilém Flusser, philosopher born in Prague in 1920, exiled in Brazil, returned to Europe in 1972 where he invited Fred Forest to the XIIth Biennale of São Paulo for which he was one of the advisors. Flusser is now recognized worldwide for his writings on photography and video. Fred Forest, having established a strong friendship with the philosopher, worked closely with him from this date, 1972, until his death in 1991.


 

In the English-language video presented for this "Action" by Fred Forest, Vilém Flusser, who shared with the artist his work on gestures in the professions, gives a conference on gestures, filmed by Forest in the garden in Fontevrault on a hot summer afternoon. They both play in interaction with the video, Forest using this tool in a particularly original way in its dialogic dimension. Without Flusser's physical presence but under his permanent theoretical influence, Forest will continue his collaboration by producing "Les gestes du photographe" in Montpellier, Place de la Comédie. Still under the theoretical influence of the absent Flusser, Forest, who never separated from his Portapak, on vacation in Vigan, a small town in the Gard, sees a hairdresser's shop. He enters the store and asks for permission to film. The hairdresser accepts. Look at the result in “The hairdresser’s gestures”.

Sociological  Communication  Others 

Fontevrault (FR), Le Vigan (FR), Montpellier (FR)

Theme: Echanges

Typology: Animation, Dispositif, Documentaire, Film

Medium and media: Vidéo

#Implication  #Partage  #Participation  #Pédagogie  #Philosophie 

1972

Les gestes du Professeur dans le jardin à Fontevrault

1972

Les gestes du Professeur dans l’appartement à Fontevrault (FR)

1972

Les gestes du photographe sans paroles

1972

Les gestes du coiffeur

Les gestes du Professeur dans le jardin (EN)
1972

Les gestes du Professeur dans le jardin (EN)

Voir la vidéo : https://vimeo.com/516681874

Voir la vidéo

1972

Les gestes du Professeur dans l’appartement (FR), sous-titré EN

1974

Dans le jardin (EN), sous-titré EN

A propos de Vilém Flusser, témoignage sur le Territoire du M2 par Fred Forest (ZKM archives), sous-titré EN

A propos de Vilém Flusser, témoignage sur le Territoire du M2 par Fred Forest (ZKM archives), sous-titré EN

Voir la vidéo : https://www.facebook.com/fred.forest.3/videos/10153134561142882/

Voir la vidéo

Par TK-21,  Réalisation Fred Forest, Jean-Louis Poitevin et Martial Verdier (interview vidéo sur zoom)

Par TK-21, Réalisation Fred Forest, Jean-Louis Poitevin et Martial Verdier (interview vidéo sur zoom)

Voir la vidéo : https://www.tk-21.com/Fred-Forest-Vilem-Flusser

Voir la vidéo

Les gestes du Professeur dans le jardin à Fontevrault
1972
Les gestes du Professeur dans le jardin à Fontevrault
Les gestes du Professeur dans l’appartement à Fontevrault (FR)
1972
Les gestes du Professeur dans l’appartement à Fontevrault (FR)
Les gestes du photographe sans paroles
1972
Les gestes du photographe sans paroles
Les gestes du coiffeur
1972
Les gestes du coiffeur
Les gestes du Professeur dans le jardin (EN)
1972
Les gestes du Professeur dans le jardin (EN)
Les gestes du Professeur dans l’appartement (FR), sous-titré EN
1972
Les gestes du Professeur dans l’appartement (FR), sous-titré EN
Dans le jardin (EN), sous-titré EN
1974
Dans le jardin (EN), sous-titré EN
A propos de Vilém Flusser, témoignage sur le Territoire du M2 par Fred Forest (ZKM archives), sous-titré EN
A propos de Vilém Flusser, témoignage sur le Territoire du M2 par Fred Forest (ZKM archives), sous-titré EN
Par TK-21,  Réalisation Fred Forest, Jean-Louis Poitevin et Martial Verdier (interview vidéo sur zoom)
Par TK-21, Réalisation Fred Forest, Jean-Louis Poitevin et Martial Verdier (interview vidéo sur zoom)

1972 Vilém Flusser

List of works carried out with Vilém Flusser:

  • « Les gestes du professeur avec Vilém Flusser à Fontevrault »,
  • « Les gestes du photographe », Sony 1/2 pouce, 20 minutes,
  • « Les gestes du coiffeur au Vigan »,
  • « Vidéo Troisième âge » avec Vilém Flusser à La Font-des-Horts.

In 1972 Fred Forest met Professor Vilém Flusser who came to his home in Haÿ-les-Roses to bring him an invitation to participate in the 12th Sao Paulo Biennale of which he was one of the advisors. Indeed, under his leadership, the administration of the Biennale had decided, in addition to the usual national sections, to set up an international section on the theme of communication. A mutual sympathy led them to confide in each other and Flusser shared with the artist his work that he was then carrying out on gestures in the professions. Flusser, in residence at Fontevrault, invited Forest to pay him a friendly visit. The latter never moved without having his Sony portapack on his shoulder. While one hot afternoon they were chatting in the garden in the sun, shirtless, the idea came to the artist to propose to Vilém a sequence of work on gestures. Flusser, like the perfect teacher, would begin a lecture on gestures while Forest would film his gestures. It would be a video document that we would call “The gestures of a professor giving a lecture on gestures having his own gestures filmed”. As brilliant and voluble as ever, Flusser developed his theories during this impromptu session. This document, known today worldwide in all universities, has become an object of study for academics concerning Vilém Flusser's theories on intersubjectivity. Before starting, we had established a protocol.

  • I will continuously film the document for the duration of its twenty minutes without any interruption
  • In my capacity as the sole spectator I will have the right to manifest my presence in any form whatsoever. (Speech or unwanted camera movements)
  • If the speech given by Flusser continued beyond the twenty minutes of mechanical duration of the Sony tape, of course this would be considered the end of the exercise, but if his flow of words on the contrary dried up before then, we would have to wait the mechanical end of the tape at our respective places, in silence, without adding anything. This is actually what presented itself. Flusser, from the moment he no longer expresses himself, no longer knows what to do with his hands... And he shows signs of obvious annoyance while waiting for this interruption which never arrives, to the point of exclaim “Something’s wrong!” I put him to the test quite involuntarily. For my part, my only contribution during this wait was to make rapid and unexpected movements of the camera that I was holding in my hand to demonstrate my presence. The use of a providential mirror which happened to be there and which I handed to Flusser so that he could try to capture my image filming him and the use of his shadow on the wall very opportunely offered me new images to capture. Waiting for the mechanical end of the tape, having set my camera up and running, I moved back and forth quickly alongside Flusser to test his reactions.

Five minutes later we entered the apartment and Flusser, who spoke five languages, resumed his exercise in French.

1972 Les gestes du photographe

This video was made in 1972 in Montpellier on the Place de la Comédie. As part of the documents on sociological art, it represents two street photographers stopping passers-by, particularly accompanied by young children. At that time, cameras were not as widespread as they are today in 2003. They take the photo and hand a ticket to people who will have to pick up the photo, in the coming days, from the store that uses the cameras. two photographers.

Like two hunters, they share the work while waiting for people in the square, on the two zebra crossings where they disembark in continuous streams.

It seemed interesting to us to film them in order to capture their comings and goings and the relationship they have with their work tool, through their repetitive gestures...

1972 Les gestes du photographe (2003)

This video was made in 1972 in Montpellier on the Place de la Comédie. As part of the documents on sociological art, it represents two street photographers stopping passers-by, particularly accompanied by young children. At that time, cameras were not as widespread as they are today in 2003. They take the photo and hand a ticket to people who will have to pick up the photo, in the coming days, from the store that uses the cameras. two photographers.

Like two hunters, they share the work while waiting for people in the square, on the two zebra crossings where they disembark in continuous streams.

It seemed interesting to us to film them in order to capture their comings and goings and the relationship they have with their work tool, through their repetitive gestures...

They stage their own gestures by taking their photos in sometimes acrobatic poses. While waiting for customers, they demonstrate repetitive gestures with their work tool (the camera), one of them in particular hitting it against the thigh with two sharp and rapid blows.…

At no time did these two photographers, during the 30 minutes that I was filming them, worry about my presence to “over-play” their character. Their gestures are perfectly authentic and natural. They stop people coming from the front with a wave of their hand. Generally women with a stroller or child in their arms are the preferred target people, of whom we perfectly understand the choice of our two photographers. Photographers who visibly work together without any sign of competition. With this harvest of gestures as well as the numerous one-off relationships established between all these people on the Place de la Comédie in Montpellier, I am assured of the satisfaction of my friend Professor Vilém Flusser when I bring him back and show these videos.

1972 Les gestes du coiffeur

This document was produced in 1972 in Le Vigan, one of the two sub-prefectures of Gard in the south of France in Occitanie which had approximately 3,500 inhabitants at the time. Always equipped with his Sony Portapak video, Fred Forest, passing through this small town, discovered the existence of this hairdresser and immediately asked him for permission to film him. Indeed, he discovered an aesthetic dimension in his way of treating people's heads with their hair like a sculpture that he had to create. Playing scissors by making them click rhythmically in this work, bringing his activity to an artistic and symbolic dimension. Other elements were also brought together in this experience by Fred Forest: being, in this game of the filmer, himself filmed in synchrony, his image being reflected by the large frontal mirror above the shampoo sinks. He was also able to discover how the social relationships between the hairdresser and his client were modified during the session. At the beginning the hairdresser positions himself almost in an attitude of servility in his relationship with the client, repeatedly sending him “sir” as long as his arm...

But as soon as the cutting begins it manifests itself quite differently. He is now the one who has all the authority over the operations and he does not hesitate to jerk the client's head back into the position he unceremoniously assigns to him several times!

Without knowing it, our hairdresser gains the advantage over his client: a symbol of power and strength of course, it is Delilah cutting Samson's hair to better destroy him.

Vilém Flüsser has published numerous texts on Fred Forest:

  • " L’Espace communicant : l’expérience de Fred Forest " par Vilém Flüsser, Communication et langages, CEPL n° 18, Paris 2e trimestre 1973
  • " Reportage rue Guénégaud " par Vilém Flüsser, La télévision en partage, IDERIV Lausanne 1973
  • " Les gestes du professeur " dans Art Sociologique Vidéo N° 1188 UGE, Paris 1977

De Vilém Flusser, see as well :

  • La Force du quotidien, Hurtubise 1973
  • Choses et non-choses, Jacqueline Chambon, 1996.
  • Pour une philosophie de la photographie, Circe, 1996
  • Les Gestes, HC-D’ARTS Paris mai 1999

The writings

Vilém Flusser, still very little translated in France*, is considered a reference philosopher in the German-Saxon area, for everything relating to photography and new media. Disappearing accidentally, he collaborated in many of Fred Forest's actions over twenty years, during which their friendship developed, by writing twenty texts about them.

Fred Forest or the destruction of the established points of view

Vilém FLUSSER, Philosopher, (Fontevrault, December 1975)

A hot afternoon in 1974, Forest visited me in Fontevrault, in Touraine, where I began to write a phenomenology of the human gestures. We were in the garden. I explained him my thesis according to which if one was able to decode the significance of the gestures, we would have found the being's significance in the human world. Forest always provided of his equipment video passed his nearly automatically to record my explanations on a videotape. I continued to explain, accompanying as I always make it, my verbal speech by gestures suitable of my hands and my body. The camera that Forest held between his hands followed inevitably my gestures by corresponding "gestures movements". But his gestures obliged to their turn, my own gestures, to alter in answer. So a dialogue had settled, whose numerous levels were not entirely in conscience for Forest, nor for me, because they were not all deliberate. My hands answered to the gestures of the camera, and the modification of their movements changed, subtly, my words and my thoughts. And Forest not only moved in answer to my movements, but also to the thoughts that I articulated verbally. When this very curious dialogue (because non usual) ended, Forest immediately presented the videotape on the screen video. We were sat to look at it, but it was impossible to us to remain quiet. It was necessary for us to debate on the videotape as for the theme conversed (the gestures), as the transformation of this theme by the videotape itself. It was regrettable that there was not to our disposition a second equipment of video to record this new dialogue to add it like "metadialogue" to the first videotape. (And so forth maybe, in receding infiniteÖ) Very later in Arles, where I participated in a roundtable on the topic of the photograph, Forest presented before an aid of photographers and critics, this videotape of the gestures. Suddendly, I saw it from a radically new point of view. It had become a dialogue " inserted " in the Arlesian dialogue about the photography, to demonstrate the essential difference between video and photography, and to suggest a possible cooperation between the two media.

In the illustration by this second example of the type of action of Forest, his subject is not as obvious as it is in the first. His initial motive was probably to his habit to play as always with the camera. (His constant "research") But as the action took place, his subject became the one to understand actively my explanations. The camera became, as spontaneously, a epistemological tool, an instrument to understand. But this instrument had a direct effect on the "thing to be understood": on my speech.

- When Forest felt that his effort to understand me changed my explanation his subject was modified once again. From that time, he wanted the dialogue with me to the level of the videotape. But the result of this action was of an different level of all this various subjects. In the Arlesian context it had become a videotape that provoked the non foreseen dialogues, with unforeseeable participants, in non foreseen situations.

What is the proof: how a material reveals its virtualities during its manipulation, and how an initial subject changes under the impact of the new virtualities so discovered.

In this example, the method followed by Forest is the one of the observation of a social phenomenon (in this case: myself in relation to Forest) while accepting more and more consciously the fact that this observation changes and the observed phenomenon and the observer of the phenomenon. It is about indeed, of a variation of the phenomenological method. But with this difference: in philosophy and in the sciences this method is " contemplative " (a look), while in the case describes it becomes active involvement. A "technique", an "art". It is so, because the instrument (the equipment video), imposes, by its structure and by its function, an active attitude on the observer. It is not about here of a pretended reformulation of the phenomenological method. Forest didn't choose the video to be able to observe actively. The opposite is the case of it. The revolutionary method of observation was imposed unknowingly to Forest by the instrument. But once discovered, then this method can be applied to most varied social phenomena. Forest is located in the phase of training of this method and I doubt that he seized the whole parameter of action so opened by his method. A few years ago an experience was led in a retirement home in Hyères. His subject was double: to study the situation of aged proletarians after a life of poverty and hard labor (suddenly dived in a luxury and a leisure without other future that the one of the death) and to try to help these people to come out of passivity, inviting them to make something to give a significance to their existence. The experience was driven by a team of sociologists, of Forest and myself as "critic-observer". Forest was provided, as to his habit of his video equipment and he recorded some documents on the daily life of this house for pensioners. Then he projected these videotapes. The effect of the projection on the old people was normal: they saw themselves of outside, "as other peolple", and they was some fascinated. He explained them the elementary manipulations of the equipment, and invited them to use it themselves with his help. Some groups formed themselves among the old people, and every group achieved a videotape, a kind of movie. There is a very widespread misunderstanding: one considers the video as if it was a kind of "movies at home". Therefore the old people made very primitive movies, they became the actors, the singers, the dancers, the clowns, etc. The different movies were projected then during a kind of film festival where the competition was followed of a quick discussion at the same time as of senile quarrels. Forest recorded this event again on a videotape. In the example mentioned of this action, there was various subject that crossed themselves in a complex way. First, there were sociological subjects: to study a given social situation, and to use Forest as instrument of investigating. There was the subject of the old people: to entertain themselves in order to escape a little of the daily stupor while leaning on the presence of the animation team. There was my own subject: to observe the action of Forest in a very specific context to be able to criticize him. And there was the subject of Forest finally: to seize the opportunity offered to achieve an experience. What is fascinating in such a complex gearing of subject is the following fact: all individual subject had the tendency to transform the other participants in tools, because it took itself for "meta-subject", but the result of it was a cooperation of all, with all: a kind of "synthesis of subject".

The subject of Forest was to provoke the old people to look at himself, and to stop looking at the past and the future (therefore: the death). He wanted to force them to look at the present, that means their "reality". In this case, the "reality" was evidently, the alienation of the retirement home, of the social reality. Therefore the subject of Forest was "don-quichottesque": these people were condemned to die in the alienation of the comfort and of the stupor; and Forest pretended to make they conscious of this unavoidable alienation while directing their looks on this situation. The result was translated in this ludicrous competition of ludicrous movies. But this "don- quichottesque" engagement of Forest can be generalized from this example: isnìt this retirement home of Hyères, indeed, a way of midget model of our present Western society? One can discover in this case, a fundamental aspect (although entirely conscious) of all the engagement of Forest: to "be the Don Quichotte of our society". Proposing ludicrous movies to better see us dying.

The method applied by Forest in this case has direct relations with the method that he used thereafter to São Paulo, at the time of the Biennial of 1975. It is about creating an artificial distance (an "épochée") to allow the participants to look at themselves from outside. But in the case of Hyères, there was any irony in the distance. It was artificial, provoked thanks to the artifice of the video, but there is anymore nothing of the climate created "to make as if " that reigned to São Paulo. It was not a comedy at Hyères. The old people were not the "travestied" comedians as the artists of São Paulo were. They were tragic characters, and at Hyères they played a ludicrous tragedy.

I propose a last example. A few years ago, at the beginning of his research, Forest succeeded in convincing by persuasion and ruse some newspapers in France and elsewhere, to include in their columns empty spaces. Somewhere below these spaces, there was a small mention declaring: "Dear reader, finally, your space to you. You can take possession of it as you want it and send back the answer to Fred Forest. " Hundreds or thousands of answers to this provocation have been received: political messages, obscenities, crazy graffiti, works of art, abuse, etc. Forest gathered them, studied "them" to expose them then and to provoke a new reaction of the public.

- The subject of this action was not, I believe, very elaborate by Forest to this stage of his naive research. It rather appeared like a visceral engagement against the mass effect of the mass medium (especially the newspapers), and against their discursive dictatorial structure. He wanted to break the infinite speech of the newspapers while forcing spaces opened to the dialogue. There was, in this engagement, also, his conviction that "the artist" (if there is some again now) must avoid two traps: to be recovered by the mass media or to ignore them and to become thus elitist. The exit of this dilemma consisted for Forest in seizing the mass media as if it was about a material, and no as a communication means. To act on, and no in, the mass media. There was, also, in this engagement, the conviction that it is necessary "to enliven" people around oneself to facilitate the expression, because the civilization of mass chokes all creative tendency. He wanted to force people to become creative. To be a deus ex-machina. And there were other aspects certainly to his subject. But they were all bound to the general subject of all action of Forest: the one to create an artificial distance between the man and his social context. In this case: between the man and the mass media. The method applied to this case is the most refined of all chosen examples. It combines (although no entirely to the level of the elaborate conscience) the results of the research in the domain of the theory of the games, of the theory of information, and of the cybernetics. Of the point of view of the theory of the games, it is about a strategy to open the closed game of the daily press to the active involvement of the largest parameter of the public, and thus to change the structure of this game. Of the point of view of the theory of information it is about a test to introduce the noise in a highly redundant channel, and to change its discursive structure in structure of a channel that permits the dialogic communication. Of the point of view of the cybernetics, it is about a test to break a complex system as the press, acting of in, taking like point of support a weak point of this same system. This is a fascinating method: to open the game of the society, to make it more informative, to break thus the established device. A too beautiful method to be true. For an outside observer, it failed for obvious reasons. The press that Forest wanted to consider as a king, seizing of it like a material finally absorbed the intervention of Forest, and transformed thus Forest, to its turn, in a tool of the very press. The participants to the game that Forest wanted "to enliven" to make them creators became indeed only the pieces of a game invented by him.

Forest cannot change the press, but he can show us what it is. It is important, because from a new vision can result a new action. Forest establishes, in this case as always, a set of points of view, a set of mirrors that sends back themselves one another. The point of view of the journalist is reflexive by the point of view of the reader, that is reflexive by the point of view of the visitor of the exhibition, that is reflexive by the point of view of the journalist that writes, and so forth in circular and practically infinite progression. Such a labyrinth of reflecting and reflexive reflections is an excellent tool for the ethical, aesthetic and existential intellectual understanding of a situation, because it destroys the points of view established (the ideologies) and it allows the situation to be revealed under its multiple facets. It permits therefore the choice therefore.

Vilém Flusser

  • La force du quotidien (The forces the daily), Hurtebises, 1973
  • Choses et non-choses (Things and non things), Jacqueline Chambon, 1996
  • Pour une philosophie de la photographie (For a philosophy of the photography), Circé, 1996
  • Les gestes (The gestures), HC, May 1999

 

LONG BIOGRAPHY OF FRED FOREST

Fred Forest has a special place in contemporary art. Both by his personality and by his pioneering practices which mark his work. He is mainly known today for having used one by one most of the communication media that have appeared over the last fifty years. He is co-founder of three artistic movements: those of sociological art, the aesthetics of communication and ethics in art.

He represented France at the 12th São Paulo Biennale (Communication Prize) in 1973, at the 37th Venice Biennale in 1976 and at Documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977.

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