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1985

Célébration du présent

The performance lasts 30 minutes. It consisted essentially of a round trip by motorbike between the Verdi Theatre and the Télécolore T.V. studios. At the time set for the start of the performance, a telephone appears in the programme broadcast by Télécolore, which comes to rest on the screen after the camera zooms in.

Communication 

Salerne (IT)

Célébration du présent, Salerne
1985

Célébration du présent, Salerne

CÉLÉBRATION DU PRÉSENTTaking part in the performance are Derrick de Kerckhove, Natan Karczmar, Jean-Marc Philippe, Roy Ascott and, of course, curator Mario Costa.

The performance lasts 30 minutes. It consists essentially of a motorbike ride from the Théâtre Verdi to the T.V. Télécolore studios and back. At the time set for the start of the performance, a telephone appears in the programme broadcast by Télécolore, which comes to rest on the screen after the camera zooms in. In the Théâtre Verdi auditorium, Forest takes a seat behind a coffee table with a telephone receiver on it. A coffee table facing this screen. Before taking his seat, Forest has drawn a continuous chalk line on the floor. A symbolic line linking the television to the place it now occupies. Slowly, Forest picks up the telephone handset from its cradle and punches the buttons to call someone. Two seconds later, the telephone rang. Clearly, to everyone's surprise, it was the telephone that was being shown in close-up on the screen of the programme that Télécolore was broadcasting... Forest hung up and repeated the gesture, making the audience understand the relationship between cause and effect. He is, of course, the only person who knows this confidential number. After several such manoeuvres, when it was clear to most of those present, Fred Forest left the table. With the handset still on its cradle, the amplified ringing tone sounds permanently. On the lower part of the screen a scrolling announcement in Italian reads: "A telephone is ringing, please wait, a man will come in and answer it! "Forest has now jumped behind a helmeted motorcyclist who is taking the stairs with a deafening roar. The shortest route to the ground floor exit. The stunned audience, initially shocked by all the commotion, had just realised that Forest had gone straight to the television studios... to answer the call. A call he himself had made! In other words, we'll have Forest on one side, Forest in the middle, Forest on the other side, Forest at the end of the information flow vector, and finally Forest, applauded and back at the Théâtre Verdi! The appearance, in the meantime, of Forest on "the other side", picking up the telephone on the cathode-ray screen, produced a double movement, one of relief and the other of profound satisfaction. Isn't aesthetic pleasure, from the audience's point of view, itself made up of this hint of frustration, this expectation, this need for reassurance?

CÉLÉBRATION DU PRÉSENT

ARTMEDIA, THÉÂTRE VERDI, SALERNO, ITALIE
4 MAI 1985
 
CONCEPT :

This performance is undoubtedly one of the most significant in terms of the issues addressed and posed by the Aesthetics of Communication. In any case, it highlights the conditions inherent in the transition from an aesthetics of the object to an aesthetics of communication (an aesthetics of the relationship and of the relational, as Nicolas Bourriaud would argue almost thirty years later). The 'Celebration of the Present' performance is a series of temporal and spatial 'cut-outs', implemented alternately in the unfolding of the action in progress. Physical" objects and sound and visual information will circulate back and forth between the two geographically determined physical locations of the performance. In this case, the two locations are the Théâtre Verdi and the Studios de Télécore, some five kilometres apart, linked to each other by telephone lines, hertzian waves, urban thoroughfares and various means of transport. These different vectors of communication will play an essential role, because although they will never be intrinsically present in the performance for the audience, in the form of any kind of representation, their presence will nevertheless be decisive and essential for their imagination.

DEVICE :

  • The baroque setting of the grand auditorium of Salerno's Verdi Theatre
  • A monumental marble table with a television receiver on top, broadcasting the Télécolore programme continuously
  • As a partner, the Télécolore television channel covering the Salerno region, which will broadcast our programme live for thirty minutes, simultaneously with the performance taking place in the Verdi Theatre
  • The regional telephone network
  • A white plastic table-top telephone handset for amplified hearing, which will be reproduced on loudspeakers via a sound system
  • A low table and a chair
  • A red 500cc Japanese motorbike

The performance lasts 30 minutes. It consisted essentially of a round trip by motorbike between the Verdi Theatre and the Télécolore T.V. studios. At the time set for the start of the performance, a telephone set appeared in the programme broadcast by Télécolore, which came to rest on the screen after the camera zoomed in. In the Théâtre Verdi auditorium, Forest takes a seat behind a coffee table with a telephone receiver on it. A coffee table facing this screen. Before taking his seat, Forest has drawn a continuous chalk line on the floor. A symbolic line linking the television set to the place it now occupies. Slowly, Forest picks up the telephone handset from its cradle and punches the buttons to call someone. Two seconds later, the telephone rang. Clearly, to everyone's surprise, it was the telephone that could be seen framed in a close-up on the screen of the programme that Télécolore was broadcasting... Forest hung up and repeated his gesture, making the audience understand the relationship between cause and effect. He is, of course, the only person who knows this confidential number. After several such manoeuvres, when it was clear to most of those present, Fred Forest left the table. With the handset still on its cradle, the amplified ringing tone sounds permanently. On the lower part of the screen a scrolling announcement in Italian reads: "A telephone is ringing, please wait, a man will come in and answer it! "Forest has now jumped behind a helmeted motorcyclist who is taking the stairs with a deafening roar. The shortest route to the ground floor exit. The stunned audience, at first shocked by all the commotion, had just realised that Forest had gone straight to the television studios... to answer the call. A call he himself had made! In other words, we'll have Forest on one side, Forest in the middle, Forest on the other side, Forest at the end of the information flow vector, and finally Forest, applauded and back at the Théâtre Verdi! The appearance, in the meantime, of Forest on "the other side", picking up the telephone on the cathode-ray screen, produced a double movement, one of relief and the other of profound satisfaction. Isn't the aesthetic pleasure from the audience's point of view itself made up of this hint of frustration, this expectation, this need to be reassured and to verify hypotheses, which suddenly find release in an ultimate clue that is offered to them, as it were, on a stage?
In this performance, Fred Forest is seeking to communicate to us a certain sensitive 'perception' of time and space in the complex relationship that these two concepts have when they are linked to NTIC (New Information and Communication Technologies). This relationship is made all the more complex by the fact that it brings into play media and situations that hybridize, overlap and intersect, through a system that the artist develops and implements. And, charged with this intentionality, it aims to summon our pleasure and our awareness, by striving to 'invent' new forms of REPRESENTATION. Forms that can, if need be and in the best of cases, give us an account of our 'relationship to the world', in the context and environment that are ours today, here and now.
In the audience: Robert Adrian, Roy Ascott, Eric Gidney, Nartan Karczmar, Tom Klinkowstein, Mit Mitropoulos, Jean-Marc Philippe, Derrick de Kerckhove, René Berger, Abraham Moles.

" Célébration du Présent ", + - 0, Bruxelles, 1986.

08-06-1985 Il Mattino - Artmedia
08-06-1985 Il Mattino - Artmedia

 

1985 Il Giornale di Napoli
1985 Il Giornale di Napoli

L’art planétaire de Fred Forest

Derrick DE KERCKHOVE ( Toronto, juillet 1993 )
Directeur du Programme Marshall Mac Luhan de l'Université de Toronto.

 

The global art of Fred Forest

Derrick OF KERCKHOVE (Toronto, July 1993)
Director of the Marshall Mac Luhan Program at the University of Toronto.

Since the years 1970, where I met Fred Forest in presence of Marshall Mac Luhan that was interested in his artistic practice, I didn't stop crossing him; at São Paulo, Berlin, SalerneÖ or on his own "Territory" in Anserville! Forest understood, one of the first, that the media are not ends in themselves. As if electricity could replace the painting, or as if for Nam June Paik it was sufficient to stack some television sets to make an artworkÖ The deep boredom that the productions of the video-art and facilities using the boxes or the contents the video often inspire holds, precisely, to what the public is excluded most of the time of the experience. The merit of Forest is to have been a precursor in the domain of an interactivity introduced in the field of the art.

In a first stage through the sociological art, putting in work the physical involvement of the publics, in a second with the technological device notion, extensively used in the Aesthetics of the Communication.

The sensitivity of Forest is not plastic, but rather neurological. Former employee of the Mail in Algeria, he keeps of this profession an empiric and intuitive knowledge of the networks. In a sense, the work of mailman Forest is as disconcerting as the one of the mailman Cheval, but it is a lot more demanding. Cheval built his house of dream, stationary place, shelter to forget his postal hikes. It is not with shellfish that Forest constructs its universe, but with the sounds that they contain; and of which one says that they make echo to the whispers of the ocean.

In Salerne (I), the echo of the electronic ocean was rhythmized by the repetitive and shooting tonality of the Italian telephone. The national tootings have some voices that their are own. That reflect maybe, for every country, a certain frame of mind. The Canadian telephone has bureaucratic modulations. Synthesized seven small notes precede light buzzes that signal, imperatively, that one doesn't want to waste time. Some telephones of country, in faraway countries (and more and more rareÖ) testify on the contrary by their trailing languor that one has the whole necessary timeÖ At the time of the experience of Forest, achieved in Salerne, using broadcasting and the telephonic network at a time, we were about thirty participants petrified by the double fascination of the cathodic screen and the incantatory tooting of the telephone. The eyes aimed on a screen during a regional broadcast, where it doesn't happen anything else that a telephonic device in close shot that sounds! Probably Forest while putting on work his device had it for goal to create in us a phenomenon of tension that had to find to produce the pleasure, by its own end. But Forest had already disappeared of the room of performance, straddling a motorcycle that propelled him toward the TV studios. With the telephone call of Salerne, as in so many other animation of his own, Forest manipulated several networks in interaction: telephonic, television and road network. The motorcycle, besides its powerful dramaturgic and ritual value served at a time as relay and as mechanical parody for the electronic contacts. He showed, by there, the superposition of electronic and mechanical erasÖ His physical person went there where his technical "presence" was already virtualized a long time before.

As Spiderman, Forest had adroitly woven an electronic spider web. Making that he repeated the gesture of the technician or of the industrial that equip themselves with a system appropriated to their needs. Forest playing on a sensory register took in this demonstration the double role of initiator and model. He intended himself as the modular point, neuro-technological module, by which pass the technical and biologic interrelationships. This modular role you play it, unconsciously, every time that you take the telephonic device, that you watch the television or that you listen to the radio, you become automatically, the physiological relay of various technical interactions of these powerful environmental tools that participate henceforth in the most intimate way to our existence. What can we learn of an experience as the one of the telephone call of Salerne? How does the telephone function? the motorcycle? the television? No, what we learn, it is how these different extensions of our body and our nervous system are coordinated to our use. We believe in wrong that we are the "contents" of this technical environment. We project on the new electronic world the spatio-temporal setting that bequeathed us our alphabetized tradition. What Forest tries to make understand to us while obliging us to pass by singular experiences, it is that we are the "containing" of this media, in the same way as we contain our own nervous system and, as much that possible, our own psychology.

Something is therefore changing in our manner to be at the world. It is precisely the task of the art to pull us from our own torpor.

What we understand by the aesthetics of the communication, itís the artistic expression of a project: the one to explore the limits and the shapes of the communication means in their psychological and social implications to introduce them in the picture that we make of ourselves. Evidently, nothing is needed, for this, to confine himself in the fetishism of the new technical means of which we have at our disposal.

Yet, if the aesthetics of the communications has the tendency to encourage the exploration of the media, and particularly the one of the electronic media rather than typographic, it is because it is there that there is always the new, the misunderstood, the non-sensitive. On the other hand, these are precisely this media that reintroduced the problems of aesthetics, that means sensation and perception, in an universe still dominated by problems of representation, abstraction and conceptualization. The writing, that should be thoroughly obvious and known, has unsensitive and broken up the human communication. It is the only technology of communication that reached this degree of abstraction, made exception, maybe, of certain uses of the computer that, in many places, is its electrified equivalent. All others media starts with addressing to the senses before communicating the sense.

To the consideration of the communication in general, and of the new techniques in particular, the role of the art is not episodic, but central. Indeed, the technicality of this media and their use by the market and by the power, include finalities that only let a narrow margin of choice to the people who are implied, the administrators as the administrated people. There is not game where the stakes are adjusted of advance.

The essential, it is that the device is organized so that it succeeded in inviting those that it engages to discern otherwise the roles and the functions of the means that they manipulate, themselves or their similar in ordinary circumstances. The aesthetics of the communication is not a theory - although some can be tempted to reduce it to a theory - but it is a practice. It doesn't produce some objects, but it arranges some relations. It is in line with a temporal dimension, so much in the gesture that in the prompt reflection that this gesture gives to the situation of which it is the contemporary. What is revealing, it is that most artists of the communication don't have often, actually, nothing to communicate. It is sufficient to them to constitute networks and various interactions so that it is the user himself that is in charge of the content. There are two basis principles that it is necessary to consider to understand this new aesthetics; on the one hand, that the real content of his works and performances is the user of the network; on the other hand, that the gallery or the ideal museum of these artistic activities is the space of the waves and communications.

A high number of artists, using the new technologies, thinks that we changed. It is this that interests them and that they want to express. We began to change very quickly since Cézanne. We have been invited by him, and by those that followed the ways of exploration that he had opened, to change our manner to look at the things. With the abstract painting, we perceived that we could cause in ourselves states of sensitivity that didn't have much anymore to see with the primate of the figuration. We didn't need significances to feel some sensations and even ideas. We could pass next to the definitions, of the explanations, without losing profit of a complete interaction with the work.

To see otherwise? to feel otherwise? But to see what and to feel how? It is not my intention to substitute me for what translate a Forest, a Rokeby or a Roy Ascott of it. Everything that I advance, here, relief of my own feeling on what appears to me as urgent today. It is for that that I insist and I deliver to you what constitutes for me the foundations of an aesthetics of the communication. I believe that this shape of art invites us to discern the world to the very in the heart of our psychological sphere, globally, rather than according to the fragments offered to each of us by individual circumstances. He invites us to modify our perception, cognitive probably, but especially sensory of our own picture and the conscience that we have of it, to widen it to the dimensions to which the new media give us access.

Note
(I) Performance: "Celebration of the Present", "ARTMEDIA", Theater Verdi, Salerno, Italy, May 4, 1985.

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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