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1969

Interrogation 69

Invited to take part in an exhibition in Tours, Fred Forest discovered that the Galerie Saint-Croix was a disused Gothic church. When he became aware of the site and its old stones, he immediately conceived of a thematic exhibition where the knowledge of the past would meet that of the present.

Sociological 

Tours (FR)

Theme: Communication

Typology: Exposition

Medium and media: Multimédia

#Espace-temps 

1969 Interrogation 69

Invited to take part in an exhibition in Tours, Fred Forest discovered that the Galerie Sainte Croix was a disused Gothic church. When he became aware of the site and its old stones, he immediately conceived of a thematic exhibition where the knowledge of the past would meet that of the present. In doing so, he followed the example of cathedrals, where technical, scientific, astronomical and mathematical data are integrated into the stones.

He has designed the first video installation in France where, in accordance with the participatory criteria that mark his artistic practice, visitors will play with their own image thanks to a closed-circuit television system.

He has also enlisted the help of Luc Ferrari, a creator of contemporary music, who is integrating visitors' comments into his works in real time. He will be bringing in a whole range of technological equipment on loan from Dassault, including life-size models of satellites that will orbit in space, suspended there under the vaults. Computers complete the futuristic décor created by the artist. Georges Elgozy, an eminent economist and philosopher, was asked to write the text for this event in which art and technology were closely linked.

The exhibition was a major event among the young artists of Tours, who gathered there every evening to enjoy a critical venue run by Fred Forest. Alain Snyers, who was among them, is still a precious witness to this. It was from this date onwards that the critical nature of the artist's actions began to develop. His exhibition brought together young artists who were unable to make themselves heard by those in charge at Tours town hall, who wanted to have a place of their own to run independently. Fred Forest's exhibition was a real providence for them, as they could meet there in complete freedom.

Word of mouth got around, and the demands were formalised and presented to the city's cultural services, whose officials had no use for them, having eyes only for the two star artists of the day: Calder and Debré, who had all the city's resources at their disposal. The rumours of these protests reached the ears of Jean Duvignaud at the University of Tours, who sometimes came to support them, bringing some of the protesting students to this exhibition.

Galerie Sainte-Croix, Tours, May 1969

Electronic mass in a Gothic chapel. Relating the "knowledge" of the Past to the "knowledge" of the Present...
Designed and produced by Fred Forest.
Musical creation: Luc Ferrari.
Text by : Georges Elgozy
Venue: Chapelle gothique Sainte-Croix, Tours

Concept

The first video-art installation created in France. A technological environment mounted in situ in an architecture charged with symbols. The catalogue text reads: "In the alchemical tradition, each stone in a religious building must be deciphered and read like a book holding secrets. A book in which data from the physical, mathematical and astronomical sciences is recorded". Video, computers and satellites all make sense in the ancestral setting in which they are housed. The visitor becomes an integral part of the work through the real-time representation of his or her image in the device on the screens, each gesture multiplied on each television set, dynamically modifying the initial formal relationship. In the traditional context of a provincial town, the event created a disruption by becoming a rallying point for university students and local artists such as Peter Valentiner and Alain Snyers. "Interrogation 69" was transformed into a forum for debate led by Fred Forest. This first video-art event in France had a national impact. The first French television channel devoted a ten-minute report to it in its 8pm news programme on 18 May 1969.

Device

  • Close circuit TV
  • 3 slide projectors
  • 15 fluorescent screens
  • satellite prototypes, Marcel Dassault
  • An IBM computer
  • Cabasse mixing console
  • 5 Grundig tape recorders
  • A Philips camera

 

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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