Fred Forest
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Fred Forest (born July 6, 1933 in Mascara, French Algeria) is a French new media artist making use of video, photography, the printed press, mail, radio, television, telephone, telematics, and the internet in a wide range of installations, performances, and public interventions that explore both the ramifications and potential of media space. He was a cofounder of both the Sociological Art Collective (1974) and the Aesthetics of Communication movement (1983).

The holder of a state doctorate in the humanities from the Sorbonne (his 1985 thesis committee included Abraham Moles, Frank Popper, and Jean Duvignaud), Forest has also taught on the faculty of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Art, Cergy-Pontoise; the University of Paris, Panthéon-Sorbonne; and the University of Nice, Sophia-Antipolis. He is the author of numerous books on art, communication, and technology including Pour un art actuel: l’art à l’heure d’Internet (1998, For an Art of Today: Art in the Internet Age), Fonctionnements et dysfonctionnements de l’art contemporain (2000, The Inner Workings and Dysfunctionality of Contemporary Art), and L’œuvre-système invisible (2006, The Invisible System Work).

Aside from his artworks, which are often imbedded in the mass media and use publicity as a raw material, Forest is well known in France as a fierce critic of the contemporary art establishment—a critical stance that led him to take the Musée National d'Art Moderne (Centre Georges Pompidou) to court (1994–97) over its refusal to disclose the purchase prices of recent acquisitions. He is also one of the founders of the French Fête de l’Internet, or Internet Fest.

Forest has taken part in the Biennale of Venice (1976) and the Documenta of Kassel (1977, 1987) and his work has won awards at the Bienal do São Paulo (1973) and the Festival of Electronic Arts of Locarno (1995). In 2004, Forest’s archives, including his video works, were added to the collection of the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel of France. A retrospective of his work was held at the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia in 2007.

Influenced by the political and cultural ferment of May 68, Situationist critiques of the society of spectacle, Marshall McLuhan's writings, Umberto Eco's concept of the “open work,” and the avant-garde’s proclaimed goal of breaking down the barrier between art and everyday life, Forest stopped producing traditional art objects in 1969 and focused instead on a utopian form of “social praxis” operating “under the cover of art.” Because of its portability, low-fi aesthetic, immediacy, and potential for interactive feedback, video was the tool of choice for such experimental social praxis; however, Forest also became interested in the mass media at an early stage in his career. His first major series of works with the mass media was the “Space-Media” project of 1972, which included a small “parasitic” blank square (“150 cm2 of Newspaper”) published in the January 12, 1972 edition of the daily Le Monde, which the readers were encouraged to mail back to Forest, filled in with commentary, creative writing, or artwork of their own. “Space-Media” was the subject of a major article by the philosopher and new media theorist Vilém Flusser, with whom Forest collaborated throughout his career.