What is teletext ?

Teletext is a system which encodes extra information in analogue TV signals, where televisions with the right chip can decode and display special text and graphic pages. Teletext originated in the UK in the 1970's. Today teletext services still offer a range of text-based information, usually including national, international and sporting news, weather and TV schedules. There is an excellent Wikipedia page describing teletext and itshistory here.

Teletext uses the VBI part of the television broadcast signal. VBI stand for the vertical blanking interval - the portion of the broadcast TV signal occupied by teletext and other data streams. The number of viewers to a page of teletext does not slow down the teletext system - unlike people visiting a webpage on the internet. So a million of us could potentially visit page 802 all at the same time [see above] and find out about Ricky Martin / Don't Care without worrying about crashing the system.

Teletext can also be used for communicating more personal matters than world news or lotto numbers. You can see an example of this on this Ceefax page. Ceefax is one of the original teletext stations. There is a really great gallery of early Ceefax pages from this teletext "fan site" here. If you are thinking of contributing to the Microtel station with your own work, do check this page out for some great inspiration!

Finally, teletext is also a medium that has been investigated by other artists.
Dragan Espenscheid from Bodenstandig 2000 created a piece called "Teletext Babez" featuring a collection of racy teletext advertisements for lonely hearts phone lines. If you have seen the Bodenstandig 2000 live show, you will have seen this collection of images in their visuals. You can view Dragans page about this collection here.
jodi.org are an art collective who have also worked with teletext. You can view their project "Teletext" here. There have not been many artists who have worked with teletext - there are no rules as to what "teletext art" is. Making your own teletext pages can be your fantasy.