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.