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Le rallye téléphonique

Work produced at ARTCOM Köln 86, Galerie Moltekerei, Cologne (Germany), with the contribution of the radio programme "L'oreille en coin" of Emmanuel Den on France Inter. 22 June 1986, between 16:30 and 17:00.


Cologne (DE)

Theme: Communication

Typology: Dispositif

ARTCOM Köln 1986, Internationales Symposium zur Kunst und Kommunikation im High Tech Zeitalt

ARTCOM Köln 1986, Internationales Symposium zur Kunst und Kommunikation im High Tech Zeitalt

Voir la vidéo : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ys2P8ZpZ4uI

Work produced at ARTCOM Köln 86, Galerie Moltekerei, Cologne (Germany), with the contribution of the radio programme "L'oreille en coin" of Emmanuel Den on France Inter. 22 June 1986, between 16:30 and 17:00.

Series: Type: Radio broadcasting
Telephone network
Participation of French and German national listeners


On 22 June 1986, Forest organised a telephone rally to coincide with the Artcom conference in Cologne, in partnership with France Inter. During the weekly programme "L'oreille en coin" presented by Emmanuel Den, the radio station broadcast a call for participation. Listeners were invited to telephone a first number, the caller would give them a second, the next caller a third, and so on. In the end, Fred Forest, on hold in Cologne, picks up the first phone call he receives and welcomes the winner. On a second line, the artist is in constant communication with the France Inter radio presenter, reporting on the successive arrivals.
The important thing for the artist in this telephone rally is that no information is really conveyed in the traffic channels.
Fred Forest comments:
"This rally circulates in an informational space, superimposed on a given geographical space and propagated at the speed of light. It's a rally that can't really be represented graphically using today's traditional mapping systems. Electrical impulses travel along cables, spread throughout the network, progress from relay to relay, cross switches, leap skywards, leap over mountains, follow motorways, railways and rivers for a while, and finally plunge into the depths of the earth. In the skies, or under the earth, they travel through real and imaginary spaces, at inconceivable speeds".

 (Excerpts from Fred Forest Pionnier expérimentateur. De l'art vidéo au net art, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2004, p.154)

Ready to pick up his telephone for the prize-giving ceremony, the artist waits for the future winner of his telephone rally...
At the end of the race, the phone rings and Fred picks up the phone to give the prize to the winner of the Telephone Rally on France Inter. On a second line, the artist in communication with the radio host reports on the successive finishers, whose names are announced as they come on air.

Many thanks to Emmanuel Den, the brilliant journalist from l'Oreille en coin on France inter, for his brilliant and intelligent handling of this experimental programme. A close relationship developed between us during two other programmes he covered on my performances: one at the FIAC and the other on the Territoire du M2, where he was accompanied by Paula Jacques. Another star journalist from L'Oreille en coin, known as Kriss Graffiti, also welcomed me onto her programme to broadcast an imaginary tale called 'The Flying Dutchwoman'.


The idea is to parody the idea of a car rally by replacing it with that of a radio-telephone rally! A rally where the competition is no longer on tarmac roads or dusty tracks, but inside the head. Inside copper cables, fibre optics and hertzian waves. With the telephone rally," proclaims Fred Forest, "the risks of accidents are now limited. Energy consumption is virtually zero. Air pollution reduced to zero. Accidents are highly unlikely... It's totally comfortable, because you can take part in it, in slippers, from your armchair at home, the telephone handset (today's mobile phone...) in one hand, the transistor glued to your ear in the other... The idea is to set off from any geographical point of departure in Europe (Radio-France listening area...) to reach the town of Cologne in Germany! You'll reach Cologne after passing through a series of telephone correspondents whose numbers you'll be given by the radio or by some of them, once you've reached them on the phone. This telephone 'route', which each of you will carve out for yourself according to your ability to react, is the route you will take to reach your final destination. That is to say, Cologne, where the artist at the site of the media-performance will be waiting for you, flag in hand, by his telephone, ready to pick it up at the first ring. It is at this checkpoint that the artist stands, welcoming the competitors in order of arrival and scrupulously drawing up the rankings.
It's a rally in which the flow of traffic is non-linear, in "bushes", gradually narrowing, in an informational space (material/virtual) in real time! The informational space is superimposed term by term on the real geographical space, with a speed of movement equal to that of light. It's a new kind of rally, with no real graphic representation, and at best it can only be represented by an unbridled imagination, whose reference points are not part of any known cartography. Electrical impulses run through the cables, electron dust is scattered in the air over the airwaves, and our slick competitors, come what may, advance towards their designated goal. Energies and voices travel through the bowels of the earth in the meanders of a borderless network, crossing without slowing down a series of telephone relays, switches and amplifiers, leaping towards the sky, leaping over mountains, rivers and streams, here and there accompanying a few fast trains in the dark of night, before plunging again and vanishing into the depths of the earth, where even flowers no longer breathe, let alone ever grow again! In the sky, or underground, the rally, at the speed of light, explores inconceivable spaces, and rushes, straight towards the goal designated by the artist, driven and carried by the sole forces of the imagination and the vigilance of network computer specialists.


  • The Radio-France/France Inter studio for 60 minutes of live broadcasting
  • The collaboration of Emmanuel Den, journalist, present in Paris in the studio to animate and bring listeners on air
  • A sound desk and amplifiers at the performance venue
  • A number of telephone lines
  • The international telephone network
  • France-Inter listeners are invited to call a number of pre-prepared numbers. Numbers from which they obtain... other numbers, which allow them to advance in the rally towards Cologne by following the permanent instructions that Fred Forest, himself remotely connected to France Inter from Cologne, gives on air, at the same time as he declaims texts accompanied by background music and technological sound effects.

The radio and telephone rally, in the form of a "radio creation" produced as part of the "L'oreille en coin" programme, gives rise to an uninterrupted report for listeners in France and neighbouring countries, many of whom tune in to the programme.

1986 Le rallye téléphonique
1986 Le rallye téléphonique



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.