"DEATH OF A TELETYPE" (B&W, 200 ft.: 5 1/2 min., 1997)

By David Hildebrand


 

Basis/Summary.

There has been an awareness of technology changing our lives for the past century. Communications, in particular is a prime example. People once marvelled at the very incling of sending one's voice to another part of the planet -- something we have long since taken for granted.

Although used for sending 'telegrams' for/to/by most any average person (and then some), the 'teleprinter' (the actual generic name for the Western Electric trade-name "teletype") lived most of its life sending and receiving the news that we have read, or heard -- news that made history as we know it. Many people can recall the association with news broadcasts, and the sound of the teletype hammering away in the background, implying that the news was being presented to you in real-time -- only moments after it had been made.

Much has changed in the last thirty years, including the methods of communicating information (communication of 'text-based' information such as this is generally referred to as "data communications"). The last of the teletypes have long since been removed from service in news rooms; most military installations have also sent most of their teleprinters to the scrap or surplus piles (with a very few possibly remaining in Military Reserve, or Civil Air Patrol units).

Film Description/Synopsis.

The images presnted here are shadows -- echoes; the last rites of a machine (and its identification and/or association with humanity). As the focal point changes from one point of view to the next, each mechanical function reveals its role, hence, making its own statement. Eventually, the wheels and gears come to a halt. An almost human "skull" like image is later seen more visably to be the end of an electric motor -- the very heart of the machine -- stopped, with smoke trailing out of it. The machine has ceased. Unknowingly, it has lived much of the life of its creator.

"Death of a Teletype" was shot in 16mm. black and white stock (EK 7278 Tri-X) using incandescent (tungsten) lighting to reproduce the appearance of the time (1920s) when the machine lived in its glory.


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