TV has ended. After 57 years of continuous broadcasting, television will be switched off in Sydney at 9am on the 3rd of December.
When we speak of TV we refer to analog broadcast TV. Digital broadcast TV will, of course, continue. However, much of the medium’s specific attributes have vanished or are in the process of disappearing forever. What was the idiot box is now as flat as a framed picture, and every stage of TV production has radically changed from the creation, storage and playback of content, through to its transmission and the process with which the images are formed on our various screens.
More importantly, how we engage with TV has also changed. We are no longer beholden to only a few linear streams of content. The household TV now presents a diverse range of content sources; broadcast, files from hard drives, TV on demand and a variety of music based services. We can choose from a bewildering array of media sources, TV is no longer the dominant media platform it once was.
The switching off of analog TV services seems an appropriate moment to mark all these changes and to farewell the medium that has transfixed us for so long.
Art has a tenuous relationship with TV. On a very few occasions artists have been able to make art for the medium of TV and actually had those artworks broadcast. Crushing the Spatialist’s hopes and dreams for TV as a medium for artistic expression, TV is expensive to produce, and broadcast spectrum is a limited and commercially valuable commodity. Video Art often references, parodies or critiques TV from the outside, but this is quite different from artworks that are presented on TV and devised as such.
In these final days, Tele Visions is creating a temporary TV channel, broadcast over short-range analog transmission in Sydney, and to the world via web stream. This channel will operate for 5 days, 24 hrs a day. TV based artworks created by more than 60 artists from all over Australia and the world are scheduled alongside especially commissioned works devised for TV broadcast with a live audience.
TV also carries with it a think molasses of tropes, forms, performance technique, camera politic and semiotics that have been nurtured and developed throughout its lifespan in Australia of 57 years. From variety shows, televangelism, game shows, the structure of a news broadcast through to sitcoms, dramatic mini series, children’s programs, music videos, test patterns, telethon appeals, advertisements, current affairs programs chasing the dodgy CEO to the door, live disasters, updates from helicopters over gridlocked traffic and the ever developing weather map presentation, all this is specific to TV. As a society perhaps we have sat so close to the screen that we barely recognize where it, and we, begin and end.
TV is a unique screen based medium. It is continuous and any content encountered falls within the context of a linear program schedule. It is also intrinsically live all the time, whether it be broadcast live with a studio audience, or pre produced content scheduled to play out. TV, in its original form, is all happening in real-time, existing only in the present – no pause, rewind or replay
We see this as the last fleeting opportunity for artists to produce work for the medium of TV, or at least the TV we have known for the past 57 years. We are wide eyed with the possibilities and hope you will join us on the couch, leaving the remote lost somewhere behind the cushions.
And, like the Spatialists, we know that even a transmission of a minute will last millennia as these signals travel off into space at the speed of light.
Tele Visions has been devised, curated and produced by Emma Ramsay and Alex White.
Turn it on, leave it on, until the end.
Illustration courtesy of classic analog TV Chef, Peter Russell Clark.