Thursday 8 March 2012

Teletext Art and Gamebooks

And now for something completely different - Teletext Art.

Hyper-observant readers might recognize this as a reworking of
the skull I drew for Greg Gillespies Barrowmaze module

The organisers of the International Teletext Art Festival picked the above image as the 'mascot' for their event, and it appears in print and all over their web.

ITAF is organised by Fix cooperative in collaboration with YLE the national broadcast corporation of Finland. The works are being shown on YLE Teletext pages 8.3.2012 - 8.4.2012 and presented in the one evening TELETEXT event 8.3.2012 (at the XL Art Space, Helsinki).

My submission of Teletext art is part of my DEADMEDIA series, exploring hauntology, brutalism and obsolete technology, inspired by the end of Teletext broadcasting in the UK. It's turned into a weird kind of mix of b-movie satanism and low-res pixel art.

If you don't know what Teletext is, it's a text and low-res graphic delivery system for television - it's a little signal that is interpreted by a tiny decoder that lives in your TV.  Teletext uses a system of numbered pages, you access different pages by tapping the numbers on your remote control, i.e. 101 is news headlines, and 400 is Weather. I'm pretty sure anyone in the UK will recognise this system as Ceefax, or Oracle or Teletext.

I've long held a desire to see a Fighting Fantasy style adventure broadcast  on Teletext - a dream that is increasingly unlikely to ever be realised, but in the mid 80's when Fighting Fantasy fad was at its peak and Teletext technology was in every home, I kinda though it would be a blindingly obvious and cool thing to happen, but it never did. Perhaps I should have written a letter to Steve and Ian.

Anyway, here's a glimpse into an alternative universe where Fighting Fantasy actually did make it into your TV via Teletext:

Imagine this on your telly...

Note, the cunning colour coding

I didn't submit these to the ITAF, so don't be too disappointed that you can't play THE MAZE OF AANGOR in Finland...


  1. I remember when Teletext had a Knightmare based adventure with its classic graphics. I miss Teletext. Thanks for introducing me to its art festival.

    1. Hey, thanks for the tip-off on Knightmare on Teletext I totally missed that at the time.

      We still have Teletext here until the end of next month - but there is hardly any content on it. I am strangely emotional about the loss of it. It's also a bit annoying because as Finland shows (they have 100% digital TV and still have a Teletext service), there is no real reason to lose the service.

  2. I don't remember the Knightmare either, but I agree it's a superb idea. Ceefax/Oracle/Teletext was a great complement to the fewer channels, and useful in much the same way the web is now for basic information and entertainment. I'm sorry it's going. Thanks for the reminder and for doing something to keep the reminders coming.

  3. Oh man, this would have been so good back in the day. I used the Quiz pages etc on C4 (Oracle?) regularly as a kid. I would have lapped this up!