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
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.