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The Original Net Artists? Toronto Telidon


Motherboard’s Jordan Pearson authored a documentary and thorough feature on Toronto Community Videotex and the weirdly specific roots of Toronto’s media art scene in the early 1980s. Centring around Telidon, a television and phone line-based ancestor to the internet, it details how a forward-thinking artist community organized around this technology and brainstormed how it might be explored as a creative medium.

Telidon was promoted as a next generation version of a European invention called videotex, but with more advanced graphics and fully interactive. In the early 1980s, government and corporate promotional materials as well as breathless news reports about “TV newspapers” and e-magazines created the feeling that Telidon’s success was all but certain. Telidon development was expected to continue for decades.

…and of course Telidon development did not continue for decades and the federal government’s support for the emerging tech withered away by the mid 1980s, several years before Tim Berners Lee created the blueprint for the early web. Still though, this moment of enthusiasm led to some interesting artistic experiments and helped shape two venerable Toronto artist-run centres Trinity Square Video and InterAccess. Pearson’s piece definitely warrants more than a passing glance as it documents a bygone moment with some warm interviews and loads of great archival material.

The Original Net Artists

Filed under: News


A writer and editor based in Toronto, Greg is interested in media art and its broader cultural implications. Beyond contributing to CAN, he is the Editor-in-Chief of HOLO and serves on the Board of Directors at InterAccess.

  • It’s a shame the video “Canadian Artists and Telidon” isn’t available to view online. I got interested in it after watching the Motherboard video.

  • paul data

    Hi, I would love to view “Canadian Artists and Telidon”, as I was the creator of the soundtrack! I don’t think I ever had a chance to view the finished product, and I was not invited to the award ceremony, where the score received an award for best soundtrack. The award was accepted by Paul Petro, (who never communicated anything about it to me), I was made aware of the award by my close friend Eva Everything, who happened to be in attendance at the award ceremony.
    Paul Petro, if you read this, please make “Canadian Artists and Telidon” available to be viewed online, with the appropriate credits, perhaps on YouTube!
    -Paul Data