Turning off the TV Signal

By July 3, 2013 Blog

Tele Visions is a series of events and broadcasts planned to mark the end of analogue TV transmission in Sydney this December. Co-Directors; Emma Ramsay and Alex White are in residence at Metro Screen producing the event and reflect upon the cultural significance of this moment.

What is significant about the shutdown of analog TV in Australia? How is it that the end of a 57 year old platform that has dominated the media landscape for much of this time could fade away with no attention paid to its cultural significance, whatsoever. Clearly for many people TV has seemingly just continued on in a digital form.

Tele Visions would have you think otherwise.

Digital TV is fundamentally changed from analog TV at every stage of its delivery right through to how it is consumed. A household TV used to have a single purpose (aside from gaming console use), with limited and linear streams of content. Each evening you could have a shared experience with colleagues and friends and the next day you could talk about what you watched on TV, knowing that it was quite likely they had watched the same thing.

Now a TV shows a range of content, much of it specifically selected by the viewer either from a file or play on demand service. While some groups of people may have all tuned in to watch The Voice last night – this is less and less likely as people take control of their viewing by curating their own stream of content.

TV also sits amongst a world of screens where as it was once the only one. It has become common to refer to these screens as ‘second screens’ and there is an embedded assumption that these screens are providing ancillary content in support of the main (large) TV screen. But more and more the TV is in fact the second screen, providing a comforting haze of light and sound amid which something we are actually interested in and actively engaged in might take the foreground. What is left of TV in its digital form is both culturally and technically very different from its analog predecessor.

Tele Visions will take the form of a broadcast via online and short range analog TV transmission. It will occur alongside the final days of analog TV nationwide, as the final services are switched off permanently on the 3rd of December 2013. The broadcast, as a large scale interdisciplinary gesture, is unique and transformative in its possibilities to connect audiences across social and cultural communities of artists and the general public.

Tele Visions will attempt to take advantage of TV’s last days to pull it apart, take bits home and momentarily occupy the televisual space. The project will engage some of Australia’s leading early career contemporary artists, challenging and supporting them to produce artworks that are specifically created for live TV, a medium that artists have rarely had access to. Supporting these works will be a program of curated screenworks developed in response to the demise of TV and a series of talks and gallery installation works.

TV as a platform has held our gaze and dominated our living rooms for over half a century and yet has remained a largely closed off system, that artists have had limited access to, the switch off of analog TV, and it’s entire replacement with a digital platform, is a timely and unique art making opportunity.
Tele Visions Co-Directors; Emma Ramsay and Alex White are in residence at Metro Screen producing the Tele Visions project until December 2013 supported by an Early Career Residency grant from The Australia Council for the Arts.

Submissions for screen works to be included in the Tele Visions program are now open check the Tele Visions website for more information.

Written by Emma Ramsay and Alex White, Tele Visions.