Don Foresta is a research artist, a specialist in art and science and the artistic use of the very high bandwidth network. He was most recently a Visiting Research Associate at the London School of Economics and professor of interactive multimedia art at the Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Arts in the Paris area. He has organised several conferences and events in art and science as well as publications on the interface between the two. He is the international coordinator of MARCEL, an interactive art research network operating over broadband networks linking 250 artistis, artistic, educational and cultural institutions in 22 countries.
Born in Buffalo, New York, Foresta graduated in 1961 from the University of Buffalo with a BA in American History and Government. The same year he entered the US Foreign Service and served in diplomatic posts in Africa, Washington, and finally Paris, France. In 1971 he received his Master’s Degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and his doctorate, summa cum laude, in Communication Science from the University of Paris 2 – the Sorbonne.
From 1971 to 1976 he served as Director of the American Cultural Center in Paris. He left the Foreign Service with a Rockefeller Foundation grant to make his first television program for PBS in a series developed with video artist Nam June Paik. He created the video art department at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs in 1976, specializing in the use of video as a means of creative personal expression. He founded a private company, International Media Consultants, to organize projects of artistic, cultural and educational exchange through the new media and advanced communications technologies.
Foresta has had roles in many international television productions, such as field producer and director of the 65-part PBS series, entitled “French in Action”, teaching French through television, a program financed by the Annenberg Foundation and co-produced by WGBH-Boston and Yale University.
In 1981 Foresta created his first artistic on-line image transfer project with MIT between Paris and Boston. He was a commissioner to the 1982 Paris Biennale for which he organized a project of image exchange by telephone between French and American photographers/artists. In 1986 he was a commissioner to the 42nd Venice Biennale, creating a temporary communication laboratory using interactive computer technology for the first time connecting artists in 15 cities throughout the world.
Since 1988 he has been building a permanent international, interactive artists’ network, permitting creative interaction over long distances between artists and art institutions using video and computer technologies linked to high-speed telephone lines. He has published several articles on the new communication environment and the role of the artist in it. His book, “Mondes Multiples”, on the convergence of art and science in western culture, was published in 1991 with a second edition in preparation, made possible through a fellowship at the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa. He created a major conference on art and science in Prague with the Council of Europe under the presidency of Vaclav Havel in 1996. That publication is available from the Council of Europe. A second such conference was organized with Benoit Mandelbrot, “father of fractal geometry”, at the Rockefeller Foundation Conference Center in Bellagio in November, 2001.
He also developed the series of Souillac Conferences in that French city, bringing together artists, specialists in art and communication, industry and government to debate and develop projects in common in the field: those results can be seen at the MIT Press site at:
Foresta is currently building, as coordinator of an international team, the permanent high bandwidth art network MARCEL using Internet 2 & 3 to connect institutions internationally. As an invited artist at Le Fresnoy, National Studio for Contemporary Arts, France’s best known graduate level art school, he began the MARCEL project in 1999. MARCEL is a permanent broadband interactive network and web site dedicated to artistic, educational and cultural experimentation, exchange between art and science and collaboration between art and industry. The project, launched at the Wimbledon School of Art in 2001, can be seen at www.mmmarcel.org. It is a foundation administratively based in the UK with a wdeb site developed and managed by the University of Maine.
Foresta was a fellow at the MIT Center for Advance Visual Studies and has received several awards, among them, the US Foreign Service Meritorious Honor Award and the Director’s Award for Outstanding Creativity. In France he was made Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture. He has been a lecturer at several universities and art schools in Europe, Japan and the US. Foresta acquired French nationality in 1996.