January 25, 6 pm to 8 pm (CET-PARIS TIME), Online via Zoom (no registration needed)

Le premier rendez-vous de notre séminaire aura lieu par Zoom le 25 janvier 2024, de 18h à 20h. Il s’agira d’une session en ligne avec John Durno (Université de Victoria), Mikhel Proulx (Université Queen’s) et Hank Bull (Western Front), qui exploreront l’impact des technologies de l’information et de la communication dans le Canada des années 1970-1980 et se pencheront sur l’art du Télidon, le technonationalisme et bien plus encore.

The first session of our seminar will be on January 25, 6 pm to 8 pm (CET-PARIS TIME). We will be hosting an online session with John Durno (University of Victoria), Mikhel Proulx (Queen’s University), and Hank Bull (Western Front). Join us as we explore the impact of information and communication technologies in 1970s-1980s Canada, delving into Telidon art, technonationalism, and much more.

Glenn Howarth, Teledion Graphics.
  • John Durno (University of Victoria)Shapes Blown Apart: Telidon Art and the Struggle to Appropriate Canadian Videotex

Launched in 1978, Telidon began as a project of the Canadian Federal Department of Communications to deliver interactive consumer-oriented information services over computer networks. Although other videotex services were being developed elsewhere (most notably Minitel in France), Telidon could deliver more sophisticated graphics than its competitors and by the mid-1980s had become the dominant North American videotex standard

Telidon drew interest across the cultural sector and attracted the attention of numerous artists interested in exploring its graphic and interactive capabilities. Telidon art hubs arose in several cities in Canada and the US, providing access to content creation and display systems for their communities. Most notably the artist run centre Toronto Community Videotex (later InterAccess) focussed solely on Telidon art production in its early years. Telidon artworks were shown in multiple venues, including early Bell Vista Telidon field trials, Digicon ’83, the 1983 Bienal de São Paulo, the 1986 Venice Bienale, and Expo ’86 in Vancouver.

This presentation will describe the rise and fall of Telidon as an artistic medium in Canada, and the challenges faced by artists trying to, as Geoffrey Shea put it, “subvert this government/industry inititive”.

John Durno is a Librarian and Technologist at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, where he leads the team supporting the Library’s digital asset management, digital preservation, and general IT services. His research includes the recovery and restoration of Telidon artwork and curating a collection of early computing equipment and software.

  • Mikhel Proulx (Queen’s University), Technonationalism and Telematic Art in Canada: Vera Frenkel’s String Games (1974)
Vera Frenkel, String Games (1974)

In the autumn of 1974, Canadian artist Vera Frenkel staged the telematic artwork String Games: Improvisations for Inter-City Video. Utilizing the brand-new technologies of the Bell Canada Conference TV, Frenkel invited two groups of participants—five each in Toronto and Montreal—to play a remote version of the classic string game cat’s cradle. This presentation provides a technological and art historical analysis of String Games, situates its role within the history of networked art, and explores the artwork’s co-operative realisation in the context of technological development in the Canadian nation-state. String Games is the first piece of telematic art, and is in dialogue with those artworks better documented within media art historic canons, which focus predominantly on artwork in the 1980s, tend to canonize Americans, and are nearly exclusively the domain of men. 

Mikhel Proulx is a historian of contemporary art and digital culture. He is the Fonds de recherche du Québec Société et culture Postdoctoral Fellow at the Vulnerable Media Lab, in the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. Mikhel has recently presented research and curated exhibitions at the International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology in Venice; Yale University; Rhizome and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City.

  • Hank Bull (Western Front), Conversation With…
Hank Bull, Antoni Muntadas, Cross-Cultural Television, 1987, ZKM Karlsruhe.

Cultures Visuelles

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