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1985

Thèse à la Sorbonne

As Hélène Ahrweiler, President of the Sorbonne, said at the time, this was the first thesis to be defended in France using an audiovisual device. Like all Fred Forest's work, this thesis has a long history.

1985

Soutenance de thèse, cryptage Fred Forest

1985

Thèse 2 Forest Sorbonne Duvignaud

1985

Thèse Sorbonne Face au jury

1985

Thèse

Soutenance de thèse, cryptage Fred Forest
1985
Soutenance de thèse, cryptage Fred Forest
Thèse 2 Forest Sorbonne Duvignaud
1985
Thèse 2 Forest Sorbonne Duvignaud
Thèse Sorbonne Face au jury
1985
Thèse Sorbonne Face au jury
Thèse
1985
Thèse

Thèse à la Sorbonne

As Hélène Ahrweiler, President of the Sorbonne, said at the time, it was the first thesis to be defended in France using an audiovisual device. Like all my work, this thesis has a long history. I'd like to start by thanking Bernard Teyssèdre most warmly for the vital role he played in it. At a time when I was nowhere near having such an ambition, he spontaneously suggested to me, during a visit I was making to the Saint Charles centre at Paris 1, that I should present a thesis for which he would be the Director, in order to discuss my work with his students... As my only diploma at the time was my school leaving certificate, I pointed out to him that this was unfortunately not possible. He immediately added, "Don't be fooled, a university degree is not essential," citing the cases of Michel Ragon, Isidore Isou and Iannis Xenakis, who had obtained their thesis on presentation of their work. So I was off to a flying start, unaware at the time of the unique opportunity that presented itself to me when students, after completing a full course of study, find it so difficult to find a research supervisor... In short, I set about the task, presenting a DEA (post-graduate diploma) on video in front of Anne-Marie Duguet and Marc Jimenez with the sustained advice of Professor Pierre Moëglin, whom I can never thank enough for his advice and devoted assistance. Having always had a great interest in reflection and writing, I already had a lot of documents that helped me make progress on my work in progress, especially as the subject of my thesis was based on my own work on the sociological art and aesthetics of communication. And so, in possession of a heavy manuscript of 357 pages, I prepared myself mentally to face my thesis jury...

The conditions for presenting my thesis:

Two years after my meeting with Bernard Teyssèdre, still blessed by heaven, the latter announced that the room scheduled for my thesis defence was the prestigious neo-rococo Louis Liard amphitheatre. So I would be working under the eye of Cardinal Mazarin, whom I had discovered by taking the precaution of visiting the premises, which I hardly knew at all, with its rich woodwork and gold? No, I couldn't present my avant-garde thesis in such a traditional setting...

The idea immediately occurred to me to create a device whose use of the tools themselves would 'explode' this framework. On the one hand, a stage set up in the Louis Liard room with a dozen or so monitors for the benefit of those present, as well as on the jury table in front of each member.

And finally, a little lower down, the candidate wearing his inseparable red hat. A few metres to his right, the control room and its assistants, using a character generator to send messages in real time to all the monitors. These messages consisted of Fred Forest's instructions, given by a conductor every fifteen minutes, to provide the temperature of the auditorium, then that of the outside, where large snowflakes could be seen falling through the window... The control room also made it possible to let the audience in the bays know that they could scribble their comments on a piece of paper and slip them into the hat that circulated before they reached the control room to be broadcast.

The system also includes videos and montages shown on the screens. These include, without sound, images of the various installations relating to the practice of Forest and images taken on site the previous days. These include, for example, the candidate triumphantly seated in the jury box, or parasitic images such as photos of academics in togas, cathode-ray Jocondes or zebras fleetingly crossing the screen. Bernard Teyssèdre, his research supervisor, had warned the artist that a thesis can last four hours and that the candidate must be able to provide images... Forest never in trouble to find a solution had used the encrypted images of Canal + as a support for his own images. Duly noted!

My second thanks go to Bernard Teyssèdre who, when I presented my project to him, never intervened to water it down, even though as Director of my research he was committing his own responsibility as an academic to his peers. He told me, with a courage uncommon among his colleagues, "that it was my project and that I should have complete freedom to carry it out...". Thank you Bernard and well done! ! !

DOCTORAT ES-LETTRES ET SCIENCES HUMAINES

UNIVERSITÉ SORBONNE PARIS - AMPHI LOUIS LIARD.
18 JANVIER 1985

CONCEPT :

Thesis defence.
Jury: Abraham Moles (Chairman), Bernard Teyssèdre (Research Director), Jean Duvignaud, Dominique Nogues, Frank Popper.
Subject of thesis: Sociological art, aesthetics of communication and artistic communication.
In the mind of the candidate (the artist), the electronic visual communication device is an integral part of the thesis presented. The viva consists of and is superimposed on: a thesis text written in the form of 2 volumes paginated from 001 to 481, a production of words in front of the jury, shared with the latter, lasting 4 hours 30, a video media device, used in real time and deferred, continuously. The purpose of this device is to modify the ritual of the viva in its traditional university form. As the candidate makes clear from the outset, the device chosen as the form of presentation obviously becomes the very content of the thesis! To defend a thesis on the subject of "artistic communication", Forest produces a work using the situation-thesis as raw material, in which the members of the jury (Bernard Teyssèdre, Franck Popper, Abraham Moles, Dominique Nogues, Jean Duvignaud) are both observers and judges of the thesis, as well as "subjects" and "objects" of the artist's action.

OPERATING :

The video screens set up for the jury and the public (around fifteen screens in all) broadcast several types of information:

  • Live images taken in the room by two mobile cameras;
  • Images memorised in advance and edited for the performance;
    written information, fixed or animated, produced on site using the character generator (messages and comments from the audience present, collected in a hat before being sent to the central control room).
  • The technical capabilities of the control room mean that inlays and colourisations can be applied to all the images being broadcast. For example, Fred Forest can 'colourise' the faces of the members of his jury in bright, totally unexpected tones... and even better, using inlay, the jury can be placed on the broadcast images in a faraway desert or on a street in Tokyo.

The artist opens his thesis with the following words:
"The purpose of the electronic communication device present here, for the first time in this traditional and prestigious university venue, during a thesis defence, is to act on the situation produced as it unfolds. The presence of this video material is neither innocent nor gratuitous; it is part of the very meaning of the work I have the honour of defending before you. I believe that the academic presentation I am giving here is also an artistic performance in its own right. Before your very eyes, in real time, I am creating a specific work of art. A work that takes "artistic communication" as both subject and object. This object, produced here with your de facto participation, should serve as a reference for you to base your judgements on my work. "

SETUP :

  • 1 Sony SEG 2000 PAL video mixer
  • 3 cameras 1800
  • 1 DXF 420E studio viewfinder
  • 3 CCV (channel controllers)
  • 2 OMA mains adaptors
  • 1 Shintron 505P writing synthesiser
  • 1 title stand
  • 2 VO 5630 video recorders
  • 2 Sony 36 SMD TVs
  • 15 JVC 33 cm monitors

Technical assistance: Éric Maillet

  • Thèse de Doctorat d'État, Fred Forest, Sorbonne 1984, Paris.
  • "  +- 0 " n°43, 1986, Bruxelles.
  • " Forest docteur es-Lettres ", Barthélémy, n° 457 " Stratégies " 1985, Paris.
  • " Les hommes en forme ", Le Point n° 644, 21 janvier 1985, Paris.

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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