Talk Back - Peggy Cady 1979

Peggy Cady Talk Back 1979, slo-scan image

Data-Entry by Jeremy Turner — Open Space Digital Archivist, December 24, 2003.
Slow-Scan video is a two-way video-telephone communication process in which images taken from a live video camera are converted by a transceiver into audio tones and transmitted over telephone lines to another transceiver and then reconstructed into a video image on a TV screen. The resulting program is a series of still pictures produced at 8.5 second intervals, creating an effect like animation, with frames developing from top to bottom on the screen. (A more detailed description of the process and equipment is included).
With this process, it is possible to exchange still video images with anyone within reach of a similar set of equipment: a telephone, a video camera, a TV monitor and a Slow-Scan Transceiver. Communication is achieved through pictures, drawings, skits, mime techniques, props, sign language and written signs. The video camera may be moved around a room or area to describe surroundings. The same picture may be held for more than one eight-second frame for study. Pre-recorded material may be used, resulting in a slightly less defined image. The camera may be held stationary while people and props are moved in and out of one central stage area. The transmission may be scripted and may have time for question and response. The entire process may be recorded on videotape for later use as a teaching or reference aid.
Young people using this process in schools or in community groups may exchange visual information with people they may never meet in person, across long distances and to isolated areas.
They can initiate exchange with island communities, cultural groups and other school groups. Exchanges may include information that is, among other categories, social, geographical, scientific or artistic in nature and may be in the form of art works, photographs, symbols, animated skits and mime. The challenge for the students is to devise a visual language; to organize visual symbols in such a way as to clearly transmit the information they want to send, and to find methods of asking for information.
This form of communication permits cross-cultural exchanges never before possible. It encourages development of direct research techniques, and gives students a stimulus to continue research and contact by mail or other means. One may cross language barriers with this system, in this manner, for example, of silent film, mime, or international directional symbols. This experience may give children the confidence to initiate communication with someone speaking a different language, or with the deaf.
Participants take an active, decision-making role in choosing what is to be communicated through this medium. Rather than being passive viewers and asking "What’s on TV?", the question becomes "What shall I put out on my TV?" They will examine their own lives, their environment and culture to provide information to illustrate their world to others. By being able to send images as well as to receive them, to talk back to the TV screen, the child takes responsibility of programmer.
Children faced with the task of choosing information for a video transmission may well begin to question current TV programming content. They may begin to look more closely at the quality of program content and become more discerning and selective viewers as they take responsibility for constructing their own media environments. In the face of today’s television programming emphasis on sales and consumption, and the number of hours children spend watching TV, it is important that children learn to ask the questions, "What is worth communicating?" "What can I say to someone else that is of value?" and "How can I communicate effectively?" Children will have the chance to judge the effectiveness of their communication with this two-way process.
The project places modern, innovative technology in the hands of young people and gives them not only the opportunity for creative expression through a problem-solving task, and the chance to increase their understanding of other people, but also provides the opportunity to understand a new means of communication, and to use modern technology to further human concerns. This type of communication and exchange, never before possible in schools, will add excitement, interest and immediacy to workshops and classroom studies.

  1. To generate awareness of the humanistic potential of technology.
  2. The use and development of telecommunications within an artistic context.
  3. Innovation in telecommunications through creative collaboration between artists, industry, technology and community.
  4. Implementation of telecommunications alternatives within the community.


  1. Participants will be introduced to the Slow-Scan telecommunications system.
  2. Participants will be encouraged to entertain innovative attitudes towards telecommunications.
  3. Participants will develop a visual language for communicating via Slow-Scan.
  4. Participants will establish visual communication with students, artists and teachers in other centres.
  5. Participants will be exposed to basic video production techniques: camera work, scripting, timing, directing and animation.

Since May, 1978, Open Space Gallery in Victoria, B.C, in co-operation with Estron Industries of Edmonton, Alberta, has conducted several live Slow-Scan video transmissions with other groups of artists in New York City, Memphis, Toronto, Oakland, Vancouver, San Diego and San Francisco.
Using a Robot Research Model 530 PhoneLine Transceiver, on loan from Estron Industries, Open Space Artists and Direct Media Association artists transmitted and received live video time-lapse images over telephone lines.
This video telephone set-up takes an image generated by a standard video camera and, with an 8.5 second digital scan converts the frozen image into coordinate audio-FM tones. This "audio image" is then transmitted over the telephone network to a similar receiver. The receiving video monitor reconstructs the audio information into a visual display. The resulting program is an 8.5 second time-lapse series, a montage of frozen images produced at 8.5 second intervals, creating an effect like animation or pixillation.
The digital scan moves from top to bottom of the video screen, and one can see the frame "develop." When the total image is "developed" it is held until it is dissolved by the following scan. No additional sound is transmitted, only "video images". What developed was a script of visual events, including some written signs for formal identification, but mainly artists communicated by changes in expression, movement, props or skits, similar to mime techniques. Sign language for the deaf was also used. Some transmissions included question and response sections between centres. There was also a relay among six centres during a teleconference link-up, each centre responding to the previous transmission.
Negotiations are currently being made to circulate the Robot equipment to other centres in Canada to continue experimental communications links with other artist centres and educational centres.
Documentation of these events is available in the form of 10 minute 3/4" video cassette and 15 minute 1/2" B&W videotape.
Workshop time for each centre or region may vary according to needs and availability of equipment, and may include an orientation session with teachers or group leaders, another session introducing the project to the children, and the actual transmission. The process of Slow-Scan and the equipment will be introduced to the teachers along with the types of activities most suited to the group with which they are working. The session with the children includes introduction to the concept and process of Slow-Scan, familiarization with the equipment, the technique of scripting and demonstration of types of transmissions possible. Extra sessions for rehearsal and experimentation may be arranged. The teacher will work with the students to prepare scripts, help choose information and direct rehearsals before the transmission takes place. Each centre may originate a telephone call, long distance or locally, depending on equipment location. Transmission dates will be arranged as equipment is available.
An entire class may plan activities and watch the transmissions. A small crew may perform and run equipment, manage props and direct.
VICTORIA GROUPS: School and community groups may participate from classrooms or meeting rooms and at Open Space Gallery, 510 Fort St. from October 30 to December 10, during the Satellite-Telephone-Computer Collaboratory. Groups may book times to participate in Gallery events and to view other transmissions.
VANCOUVER AND NORTH ISLANDS GROUPS: Workshops may be booked from October 30- December 10 as time is available.
SPRING 1979: "Talk Back" is a pilot project for further telecommunications workshops. The possibility exists for a Spring 1979 link up with the PEACESAT Educational Satellite. Groups involved in the Talk Back project may have the opportunity to participate in this video transmission via satellite with Pacific Rim Islands, originating at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS:-Phone line access-B&W Video Camera for transmission, with tripod-B&W TV monitor for receiving-TV monitor for classroom viewing-1/2" B&W video tape recorder for documentation-Cassette tape recorder
PROJECT COSTS:-Cost of long distance phone call from host centre to another centre.-Travel: (areas outside of Victoria) for one, to and from host centre.-Fee: Negotiable, depending on number of groups participating and number of sessions.
CONTACT:Peggy CadyVictoria BC(250) 386-6215
Peggy Cady, a member of Direct Media Association, has worked with Open Space Gallery, Victoria, B.C. and the National Film Board of Canada creating workshops for the Gallery, since 1975, a Media Arts Programme in Victoria Public Schools, and a video program in Open Space Video Access Studio. She has taught children’s film animation workshops, Polaroid photography for kindergarten classes, summer media workshops for children 4 to 16 years old, as well as media workshops for teachers and artists. The projects include a wide range of super-8 film making, animation, video production, Polaroid and 35mm photography, slide-making, masks, puppets, music, movement and dance activities. Currently she teaches video production techniques for adults and acts as a consultant for children’s media projects.
She holds a B.C. Permanent Professional Teaching Certificate. She is an experienced teacher with a B.A. degree in English and Education. Her graduate training was taken at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver B.C. in the Early Childhood Education Masters Degree Programme. She taught kindergarten and primary levels of art, music, and social studies in Campbell River, B.C. In the past she has had extensive experience in working with pre-school and day care children.
She has led workshops for adults, teachers in public schools and teachers in training, in the creative use of media and the arts with young people.
Peggy Cady has been a Professional Member (MGDC) of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) since 1993 and National President of GDC 2004-2006