INTERPLAY, Toronto, April 1 1979

"In Toronto, Interplay took place in the context of the first Computer Culture Exposition during the 1979 Toronto Super8 Film Festival. (...) Interplay was basically an 'on-line chat' and its 'product' was the printout that scrolled from the terminal/printers around the world (computer monitors were costly and rare in 1979)."
Source: Robert Adrian, Nettime List, 2001 link)

The first use of the I.P.Sharp §4855163b16fc2a0b94e07e4a509be949§ network for a world-wide artists' communications project was "Interplay", a computer communications project organised by Bill Bartlett for the "Computer Culture" conference in Toronto. Bartlett contacted artists in cities around the world in which an IPSA office was located and arranged for the local offices to provide free accounts and technical assistance in order for the artists to participate in the "Interplay" on-line conference.


The participating artists were located in Canberra, Edmonton, Houston, New York, Toronto, Sydney, Vancouver, and Vienna. "Interplay" used Confer, the IPSA conference program, designed to allow IPSA staff and clients to discuss system issues in a multi-user environment without the delays inherent in Mailbox (email) exchange. "Interplay" was therefore basically what we now know as an on-line "chat".

Source: Robert Adrian, ARTEX - Artists' Electronic Exchange System link)

Heidi Grundmann: ...strangely enough, what in hindsight looks interesting was the first telematic project in which European artists participated. It took place in 1979 and was called Interplay. There was a worldwide set up with this IP Sharp timesharing system that functioned quite similar to the Internet.

There were people in Vienna participating, because there was a local office of this IP Sharp firm that was quite interested in having artists working with it. These artists were Richard Kriesche and Robert Adrian. The artists were in the office and the man who ran the IP Sharp office was in my live radio studio, trying to make the listener understand what was happening. It was a radio program really *about* art activities. The man was sitting there with his terminal trying to type in his messages and to participate in the project in which artists in over 10 cities around the world were connected.

Meters and meters of paper were running out of the printer. We just couldn't read everything that was coming in to the listeners. We could not say, now this is from San Francisco this is from Sydney - there were just too many messages. It was extremely difficult to give the listeners any impression of what was going on. The radio studio had become one more live node in a telematic network. But what went out on the radio was just read texts.....mostly in English and in between helpless attempts to explain something quite incomprehensible to most people including me. This was the first connection that I know of between live radio and a telematic project.

Interview with Heidi Grundmann, by Josephine Bosma, 1997 link)

Interplay took place from about 20:00 to 22:00 on April 1, 1979 and linked 12 cities in Canada, U.S.A., Australia, Japan and Austria. There were actually 2 locations in Wien; Richard Kriesche and I were in the l.P.Sharp office in the Linke Wienzeile while Gottfried Bach, IPSA manager, had another terminal to the Funkhaus in Argentinierstr. for a live broadcast of the network conference in "Kunst Heute" (the forerunner of Kunstradio) on O1."
Robert Adrian, in: Art and Telecommunication 1979-1986: The Pioneer Years link) link (English) link) link (German)

Sabine Breitsameter: Robert Adrian, in 1979 you participated for the first time in a telecommunications project. Its title was "Interplay" and it was organized by the Canadian Bill Bartlett. What was your motivation to take part? What fascinated you?

Robert Adrian: Well, the thrill that I got out of it, was being connected, and that you're present in other places. So, I wanted to think about a form that didn't involve things and objects, but connections, and that involved a kind of singularity, a kind of collapsing of time and space. That was very important for me, that notion about being connected and finding a community. The café house mentality was, what we were after. You didn't have a community, you couldn't go down to 10th Street in New York and hang out with your artist friends, because it was hard to find anybody to talk to in places like Bristol in England, or Pittsburgh, or Vancouver, or Vienna. You found your communication online. That was the fantasy, that was the illusion, that was the kind of ambience of the project and the inspiration to go on.

Source: Robert Adrian in Conversation with Sabine Breitsameter, 2004 link)

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