Meyers, Raquel. “Is It Just Text?” In Teletext in Europe: from the analog to the digital era, edited by Moe Hallvard and Hilde Van Den Bulck, 31-49. Göteborg: Nordicom, 2016.
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This chapter looks at teletext from the perspective of an artist and of its artistic value. It is argued that teletext is not just news on demand provided by television networks or a character set, and that it is about much more than nostalgia, profit, constraints, domesticity or zombie technology stored in a garage, because teletext performs in ways we have not fully designed it for and not yet fully understood. Teletext is compared to brutalist architecture with which it shares many similarities: text is used unadorned and roughcast, like concrete. Brutalism has an unfortunate reputation of evoking a raw dystopia and teletext evokes an “object of nostalgia,” It is a challenge and has the universal language of silence. The text further argues that using old technologies, like teletext, is a commitment that is at the same time a risk because it does not seek to forge a self-identity. It is a dialogue of possibilities rather than an ego-trip monologue with technology. And these possibilities are irrelevant to the individual’s self-identity and pursuits. Finally, the chapter also explores how teletext is not a physical object; it is the dark band dividing pictures horizontally on the television screen, used by the PAL system. Vertical-blanking-interval lines like REM (rapid eye movement) sleep intervals. A door to unlock the Imagination.
Keywords: teletext, art, grid, text characters, brutalism, imagination, media art