Peggy Cady Interview

Peggy Cady Slow-Scan 1978

"It was a very exciting, creative time in my life. I remember brainstorming ideas for workshops, writing a lot of grant proposals and then finally doing the workshops. We used to have Open Space team breakfast meetings to plan events. Once we used a cookbook for inspiration - open the book, point to a page - I think that is where the Strawberry Jam Media Melange workshop title came from.... " Peggy Cady, 2004.
JT: What drew you to participate in the SAT-TEL-COMP project? 
PC: I'd have to say that it was part of an artistic progression. Before I came to Open Space I had done some teaching, filmmaking, community TV, photography, lots of painting and drawing. I did media workshops for children and adults in schools and at Open Space through the National Film Board Media Research division and grants from the Bronfman Foundation and others. The progression went from workshops and exhibits with Polaroid photography, animation, and other media and creative activity mixes, to the creation of the Open Space Video Studio and lunch time video workshops. Slow Scan - connecting computers, telephones and video cameras was another step. 
JT: What was the general reaction in Victoria at the time to your SAT-TEL-COMP project? 
PC: There was not much of a reaction that I recall. The response came from alternative galleries and groups that wanted to participate. The Vancouver Art Gallery sponsored an exhibit and live workshop around the project. 
JT: Did SAT-TEL-COMP directly inspire any Victoria-based artists that you can think of? 
PC: Not that I know of. Chris Creighton-Kelly and I worked together on a video titled "Mr Klein." It won a second in the Canadian Video Open in 1978. It incorporated both video and slow scan and used slow-scan minimally for dramatic effect. 
JT: I was reading more carefully and I noticed that there were some Slow-Scanning being done at Sundance Elementary School in the Fall of 1978...Were you part of this and were there any repeat visits at Sundance? The reason I am asking is that I attended kindergarten there in the fall of 1979 and was there until 1987. I do remember at least some video presentations where kids could play with video so maybe I did some Slow-Scanning without even realizing it. 
PC: That was me. Now I feel old! I think I went to the school over a period of 3 or 4 months, I worked with this stuff from around 1975-80. You were likely one of the participants. I did Polaroid photography and animation workshops at Sundance. Maybe some video too. Worked at South Park and another one or two schools also. 
JT: According to my Google search, you are currently a graphic designer. Have your early performances with SAT-TEL-COMP directly affected your personal aesthetic when it comes to designing or producing art? 
PC: My early experiences with all the media work I did are still influencing me. They gave me an eye for the frame - what you leave in, what you exclude...what creeps over the edge. I am still amazed by the power of the minimal black and white image and am still drawn to its power as well as to the elements of contrast, shape and movement in design. Slow-scan had a tantalizing, teasing quality to it, with the image building slowly across the screen. We played with the partial image and the surprise ending.
It was linear, it was temporal. If you had two phone lines, you could talk to the person while the images were being exchanged. It was like a story board - you had to plan ahead and think fast to make the progression of images have impact. It was a lot of fun to connect with people all over the world. 
JT: Have you been involved in any telematic or internet projects since your time at Open Space? 
PC: No. After I left Open Space I went into graphic design - and this career has been exactly right for me. It is contemplative, creative, focused and ever-changing. 

JT: Did you find the Slow-Scan process frustrating or did it give you more time to contemplate your scanned image? 
PC: One would find Slow-Scan frustrating today - after video imaging, computer graphics, the net, video games - it all has come so far since then. There was no web then. It wasn't something that happened every day. It was live transmission of images over the telephone. The scanning movement, slowly revealing the black and white image, was very graphic and suspenseful. 
JT: Have you been in touch with Open Space lately? In what ways has Open Space changed for you (if at all)? 
PC: (Sorry, I haven't kept up with Open Space. I was contacted about the archives a few years ago and donated some materials related to some of the projects I worked on while there.) 
JT: Do you feel there was something special about Victoria and Open Space that allowed a Telematic project like SAT-TEL-COMP to flourish and assume a leadership role in the Telematic Community? 
PC: I think it was a time of experimentation in the arts all over Canada and the US. Synapses were firing. There was an air of openness to new ideas - the feeling of moving into the future, the computer age, making connections, taking chances, taking leaps of imagination and turning them into reality. Anything we could imagine we could do. We could create anything we could find the funding for. It could have gone farther, but at that time the Open Space board was not supportive of this direction and wanted a return to the more tangible art and photography - they needed to have things you could hang on the walls. 
JT: What was Bill Bartlett like to work with? 
PC: Bill Bartlett was great to work with - imaginative, fun. He didn't accept limits - he went all out to make things happen. He was a catalyst for Open Space. 
JT: Would you be interested in participating with a Satellite based project at Open Space again if one was to be re-mounted? 
PC: No. Thank you for asking. Keep experimenting! 
I've moved on. I'm totally involved with graphic design now. 
Peggy Cady is one of the very first Arts Educators and Graphic Designers to use Telecommunications Networks. She was one of the main motivators of the Slow-Scan technology with Bill Bartlett at Open Space in the late 1970’s and continued to work with Bartlett for the Direct Media Association on Pender Island until 1983. From 1975-1980, she toured the Slow-Scan systems at local Victoria schools such as the experimental Sundance Elementary School.
Peggy Cady is a Professional Member (MGDC) of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) and National President 2004-2006 Society of Graphic Designers of Canada Société des designers graphiques du Canada 
Peggy Cady MGDC CADY GRAPHICS 40 Bushby St, Victoria BC V8S 1B2 Ph 250 386-6215
Jeremy Turner is the current Digital Archivist working on contract at Open Space in Victoria, Canada. He is also an interdisciplinary artist, writer , composer and curator. He is a Co-Founder of the 536 Media Collective in Vancouver. In addition, he is a Co-Producer of the very first Machinima Documentary, "AVATARA". To date, he has conducted interviews and written articles about innovations in New Media for: C-Theory, Shift, Intelligent Agent, Extropy, Rhizome, Offbeat and Front Magazine. He is on the Board of Editors for the Digital Salvage Online Journal hosted by Trace Reddel at the University of Denver, Colorado.
Also by Peggy Cady:
TALK BACK Peggy Cady 1979