I would like to return to Annick's earlier posting:
"It seems it takes about 20 years (a generation?)
before history is being built" and refer to her excellent
"Art of Communication - Art of Networks - Net Art text
where she mentions several outstanding early telecommunications
initiatives by artists linked to technologies now considered
When earlier this year I researched the Canadian history of
early telecommunication projects by artists, I was amazed
by the interwoven strands of art & science & technology, the
role of (select) industries providing technical support and most
of all the global scope of some projects in pre internet times.
In January, InterAccess of Toronto organized brief cross-
generational presentations to celebrate its 30th Anniversary.
Together with Johanna Householder we presented our
Videobridge Toronto/Budapest (1991)- a slow-scan
transmission project. Some earlier initiatives were presented by
Norman T. White, Caroline Langill and Judith Doyle among others.
As a general reference It is interesting to note that barely two
years after the telephone was first patented in the US
in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell, an early concept of a
combined videophone and wide-screen television called
a telephonoscope was already in place.
Re Canadian initiatives: in May 1978 Open Space Gallery
in Victoria, Canada in cooperation with Estron Industries has
conducted several live Slow Scan Video transmissions with other
groups from Toronto, New York, San Francisco, San Diego etc.,
Annick mentions the famous "The World in 24 hours for Ars
Electronica (1982) organized by Robert Adrian - the Vancouver
node of this project was co-organized by Bill Bartlett who in
1979 organized "Interplay" a computer communication
project for the "Computer Culture" conference in Toronto. It is
alleged to be the first artistic use of the I.P.Sharp (IPSA) Network.
In 1985 Norman T. White developed "Hearsay" a telecommunication
event, - a text - a children's game - a secret message whispered from
person to person, till it arrives back to its originator. The message was
sent around the world in 24 hours via a global computer network.
The renowned Planetary Network shown at the Venice BIennale
(1986) is also mentioned by Annick. For the first 2 weeks 24
locations around the world contributed to a daily program, for the rest
of the Biennale free user accounts were provided by the I.P. Sharp
computer- timesharing network.
Compared to the above our modest Videobridge in 1991
included performances by students of Ontario Collage of Art ,
York University, Toronto as well as students and artists , Hungarian
University of Fine art, the University of Applied Arts, and Balazs Bela
I don't know how the big global projects became a reality
- only know our complications: Hank Bull from Vancouver
lent me his video phone, I took it to Budapest - OCAD
had another phone which we used on the Toronto end
- we conducted several tests till it all worked.
The performing students were aware of the ten second
delay and adjusted their performances in the Euclid
Theater accordingly. With the amplified sound and large
projections we achieved a beautiful event for larger
audiences both in Toronto and Budapest.
Hungarian National television broadcast Videobridge.
Obviously, there are many other significant examples -
this personal note confirms that it takes "about 20 years
(a generation?) before history is being built" ...
My secret ambition however is to develop a project around
this particular obsolete technology - we shall see if it becomes
reality - comments are welcome.
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