Blame upcoming Walker show artist for Teletubbies nightmares


If you don't remember Teletubbies, those creepy rotund creatures that dominated PBS for far too long with strange names and odd possessions, you're one of the lucky ones. Heck, people even thought one of them was gay. He was purple with a purse after all.

Probably the most frightening: The sun had a baby face. A baby face! Get us outta here and save the children.

Anyway, the show was quite a hit with the young ones. It was like crack for toddlers. The Walker Art Center has some big news for us: It turns out that Gary Stevens, a British conceptual artist performing in the Walker's upcoming show, 'Ape', was once a writer and consultant for Teletubbies. We're so blessed!

The Walker did a Q&A with Stevens to get the dirty details of the Teletubbies. We all have dark pasts, it's OK.

Here are some highlights:

Many adults not familiar with Teletubbies might find it brain-numbingly slow, super repetitive, and well, just bizarre. Roaming the pastoral Teletubby Land, these psychedelically-colored, baby-talking space people love technology and one another, and spend most of their time playing games and giving hugs. In your opinion, why was Teletubbies such a successful phenomenon in children's television?

I don't know why it was so successful. I was interested in the idea of lingering on a scene or image so that a child could have time for their thoughts, rather than be led by a fast paced narrative. Coming from a visual arts background, the norm is a still image: photography and painting. Animation and narrative is something to contend with. Someone made a similar complaint about a video installation of mine called, 'Slow Life', where everyone moves very slowly in real time. I tried to explain to them that although it was slow for a film, it was fast for a painting. If children are going to watch television then it is better for the child to be creative in response to it. The programme aspired to function as a toy.

Which character-Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, or Po is your favorite? Why?

I think Laa-Laa is my favourite. I don't know why, perhaps it is because she is yellow.

Each of them has a special personal belonging they identify with: Tinky Winky a red bag, Dipsy a tall hat, Laa-Laa an orange ball, and Po, a blue scooter. What would you say is your most treasured object?

I think it has to be my iPhone, I am ashamed to say, although I carry a bag around with me all the time, which is brown and very manly.

Read the full Q&A, which is quite extensive, here.

In case you aren't familiar, here's the Teletubbies intro:

And our favorite remix: