Today I read about the people of Norway’s love of ‘slow TV’. This refers to the showing on mainstream television of actual events at real time speed. Apparently, this concept has existed in Norway for many years, and is soon to be exported to the US. This made my art antennae prick up since I would describe myself as an artist of the ‘ordinary’ and I’ve recently branched out into using video to depict the ordinary.
So I watched a BBC News report on this ‘slow TV’ with avid interest. But I’m genuinely baffled by the mass appeal. I like the idea of ordinary scenes and activities being presented to a public as something more interesting than they might at first seem but I’m amazed that people seem willing to watch very ordinary occurrences such as a fire burning and a woman knitting for hours and hours.
Past programs have included a seven-and-a-half hour train journey, a 134-hour coastal cruise, 12 hours of firewood burning and 18 hours of salmon fishing.
Around 1.1 million people watched the program ‘Nordlandsbanen minutt for minutt’ which was about the longest railway in Norway. That’s a fifth of the population of Norway.
Perhaps the appeal is to a people who are tired with the contemporary pace of life (and TV) being so fast, or a people rejecting a fast pace of life. Its relaxed tempo mimics the ‘real’ pace of life, as opposed to a pace of life injected by social media, the Internet, mobile phones, work and domestic demands.
Or maybe it works because it is new and different. Or perhaps it appeals in Norway, a country of people who are arguably (I have some Norwegian friends) more in touch with their nature and history than many others. A people more likely to yearn for gentle pleasures. Whether it will have appeal in other cultures or whether it will have any long-lasting appeal is not certain. I suspect that it won’t (the former) and it will (the latter, in Norway). I think it’s aims are laudable but I suspect that it is just too slow for most people to be able to cope with such a drastic change of pace. I think that if I am wrong and it does appeal, it will, ironically, fire up the channels to twitter and facebook as people rush to share their joy of watching someone knit a jumper.
BBC News ‘Norway’s slow TV attracts viewers’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-25524704 [last accessed 29 December 2013]