Wednesday, 1 November 2017

In Memoriam - Frank Aarebrot

Frank Aarebrot - Courtesy Thomas Hellum on Instagram
With today being All Saints' Day, remembering those who have gone before - particularly those who have died in this past year in some traditions, it's fitting to remember Professor Frank Aarebrot with reference to Norwegian Slow TV.

Frank had been the anchor for three marathon information based Slow TV shows, with another scheduled for 31st October 2017 - last night - covering 500 years in 500 minutes since The Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther's posting of the famed theses. Another was on the cards for 2018 for marking 100 years since the end of The Great War.

Here in the inset top picture, Frank Aarebrot - with typical cigarette - is covering the American Election of 2016, as shown on NRK Producer, Thomas Hellum's instagram account.

Earlier in the year I interviewed producersThomas Hellum and Rune Møklebust about the project which would have been shown last night. You can clearly hear that Frank was passionate about the project.

I was also at some point hoping to elicit a response from Frank Aarebrot on his theories of media with a bearing upon Slow TV, especially with him having been a key participant on occasion. "At some point" needs to change, or else it doesn't happen.

So, as we remember those who have passed away, we are grateful for Frank's contributions in personality and content to Norwegian Slow TV, and mindful of that which is lost, for Slow TV and beyond, with his passing.

Suitable words from Thomas Hellum on Instagram, which translate: 

"Thanks for everything Frank - 
for the tours, conversations, playfulness, your wise head."

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

The Ghan - Slow TV in Australia

This is NOT Australian Slow TV 
A potentially kick-arse Slow TV project is set to arrive in Australia during December 2017. That's kick-arse Slow TV style in an aussie accent and attitude, by the way.

The Ghan is a train journey, bisecting Australia, travelling near 3,000 km (approaching 1,850 miles) from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Adelaide in South Australia. There must be return trains, too, so feel free to reverse the direction if needed.

If it is broadcast continually on traditional TV  ("Linear TV"), it will thrash the proverbials off Norwegian Slow TV train journeys, as it will take three days. Not a mere poxy 7 hours. But it remains to be seen where it is broadcast in terms of channels and platforms, and if it is continuous. 

The Norgies (Australian slang for Norwegians, as I was told in a curry house in Trondheim in 2014) haven't even managed a day long continual broadcast of a train journey. Though they did pull off that world-record breaking ferry journey, Hurtigruten, taking five and a quarter days.

Hopefully it will be available online, too, so those of us in the Northern Hemisphere about to go through the cold and dark of midwinter can enjoy the Australian midsummer.

If you're going to make Slow TV, give us the whole story!
Hopefully this will be a proper Aussie train going walkabout all over the SBS schedule and completely kicking everything else off. Could we even get Ozzy Man Reviews in on it? Let's see him keep up a commentary for three days. I think I can hear his response in my head.

Mint Pictures was commissioned by SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) in Australia to produce The Ghan, a transcontinental train journey, which will also feature archival material.

The Slow TV Blog will carry more information as and when it becomes apparent. 

New to The Slow TV Blog? See social media linksnotable internal links or to get in touch, the media centre page.

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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

All Aboard! The Country Bus on August 29th

Update 24th October 2017: All Aboard! The Country Bus is repeated on BBC4, commencing midnight tonight (00:00 Wednesday, during Tuesday night). Thanks to Richard in the Slow TV Fans Facebook group for the heads up.

Update August 2016: All Aboard! The Country Bus arrives on BBC4 on Monday 29th August, 8-10pm British Summer Time (Bank Holiday for England, Wales and Northern Ireland). Trainspotting Live aired in July. Also starting on 29th August from 9am BST - 12 days of cows in a barn in Norway with NRK Fjos. More here.

The next lot of UK Slow TV happens in a right grand county
We've had a canal trip, an amble around the National Gallery, peeps at craft making, three glorious dawn choruses and a reindeer trip into the snowy wilderness of northern Norway. Have we had enough of Slow TV in the UK? Thankfully, no. The BBC have commissioned another two bouts of Slow TV, both transport oriented but different in presentation.

The first will be a pre-recorded bus journey from Richmond, Yorkshire to Ingleton. Unlike the reindeer journey which picked us up somewhere in the wilderness and left us not entirely sure where we were - in order to fit the constraints of a TV schedule, or The Canal Trip which was a few miles of the segment of the Kennet and Avon canal which is 87 miles long, All Aboard! The Country Bus has a sense of completion to it in that it takes in the broadest part of The Yorkshire Dales by road.

All Aboard! The Country Bus at The Market Place, Richmond
This sense of completion is important. Slow TV is another way of telling a story on TV. Would you watch a couple episodes of Game of Thrones to consider you've seen the story of the season? Does following the progress of The Fellowship of the Ring from Rivendell to Lothlorien give a sense of completed journey of The Lord of The Rings? Obviously, no. In the same vein it is my contention that much of what is getting made of Slow TV is not getting the story-telling framing of the format right. It needs to be the whole story.

So, this bus journey looks promising. Leaving The Market Place at Richmond and ending up at Ingleton Community Centre a couple hours later, The Northern Dalesman route takes in some breathtaking natural landscapes and a wonder of Victorian engineering, the Ribblehead Viaduct.

The Ribblehead Viaduct
on the route of The Country Bus Slow TV
One assumes there will be an element of surprise as to who gets on the bus. Depending on the time of day or week will there be hikers looking to rest their feet? Will the bus get stuck behind bicycles on the country lanes? Could we even get "the nutter on the bus" of Jasper Carrot's comedic eulogising? Part of the joy of Slow TV is the unfolding unexpectedness of what might happen. Not that someone getting off the bus has quite the same shock as an important character's elimination in Game of Thrones... but hopefully you get what I mean. Drama is more subtle and microcosmic in Slow TV.

As the BBC continues to build its portfolio of All Aboard! Slow TV transport shows, this is a welcome production and I'm hopeful this framing of its content shows promise of a stronger conceptualisation of telling the whole story. Like previous journey based Slow TV productions, it will be made by ITV owned The Garden Productions for BBC4.

Thacking Lane, Ingleton
It may be Slow TV but there's no need to swear about it
Now, if this were to be like buses (you wait ages for one then three come at the same time), we need another Slow TV show announcement from the BBC (or another UK broadcaster would be welcome). A second Slow TV production with trainspotting as its subject has been announced, and it's live.

This liveness is very important, too. It has that sense of 'now', that we're witnessing something unfold at the same time as we're watching it. Yes, there has to be the expectation of what trains will be coming through and when courtesy of timetables. What if there are delays? Cancellations? What type of locomotives? Which carriage numbers? Diesel - steam - electric?

Based at The Didcot Heritage Railway Centre, veteran broadcaster Peter Snow will be joined by a mathematician, Dr Hannah Fry with a rail-roving reporter, Dick Strawbridge (with probably the most amazing moustache on UK TV) over three (simultaneous?) evenings on BBC4. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, maybe? Would give a very different pattern of train timetable, different types of passenger and reasons for travelling, with more time for the dedicated trainspotter and the Slow TV curious viewer to tune in.

Trainspotting is like a box of chocolates... never know what you're going to get
This extended series of live events will allow greater interaction with the show, online and maybe in person, too. Could Dick Strawbridge's appearing from different locations allow unexpected interactions? (Probably welcome and unwelcome interactions! I am continually delighted at how well behaved the uninvited interactions on the Norwegian format are - even if the last one from Saltstraumen included a group of men and women running in their underwear across a bridge). Unstaged behaviour helps populate a Slow TV production with an added element of surprise for viewer and producer - and in the case it is unsuitable, hopefully cutting to another camera would be an option.

Trainspotting Live obviously is not a journey from A to Z (or F to M), but embraces a good principle or two of Slow TV. It is a surprising thing to put on TV, a novelty - therein lies a hook to attract viewers, besides any core audience attracted to its subject. It also allows a sense of waiting and expecting something interesting to happen. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. If it doesn't, then the viewer will find interest in the picture somehow, if the producer will refrain from cutting from something quickly if they feel 'nothing' might be happening.

All Aboard! The Country Bus Slow TV goes across the broadest
part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park
Scenes need to be allowed to speak for themselves. Think of the slowness in Slow TV like an old friend. You don't need continual chat and information, just being in each others' presence is good enough.There will be moments for saying things, imparting information - when the time's right - but not some nervous chit chat in case that awkward-silence-thing happens. Slow TV is about allowing things to have their time. Not prolonging, not artificially reducing speed but having its own innate speed.

So, these two productions from the BBC should play out in the next few months. Trainspotting Live while we still have light evenings, perhaps The Country Bus as the evenings draw in as a memoir of sunny days past as Christmas twinkles on the temporal horizon and maybe another festive Slow TV offering comes from a UK broadcaster.

Early morning near Ingleton - perfect for Slow TV
Did you hear about the Russian Slow TV? Have a look at What was so right with Russia's War and Peace Slow TV?

Slow Down - a dedicated Slow TV and Slow Radio show starting on RedShift Radio from 8th September.

New to The Slow TV Blog? Have a look around...

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Monday, 11 September 2017

Suns - 24 Hours of Sunsets - can you help?

Suns - 24 hours of sunsets around the world -
can you help? Courtesy of Lucas Radziszewski.
An exciting Slow TV style project in Poland needs help from around the world. Can you help? Please read on:

"My name is Lucas Radziszewski. I am an visual artist based in Warsaw, Poland EU. 

I am making big, worldwide project named "Suns". It is based on Slow TV idea. For the first time in history, it will create a possibility to stop the time!

I search for 72 people in all time zones on Earth. I need to find number of people living around the world, to cooperate and create work together. I am looking for someone to record beautifull sunset and sunrise in his local area. It can be made by mobile phone. The best would be live stream.

Video from your place will be shown in 23 September 2017 in top central Europe art museums - National Gallery of Art Zachęta in Warsaw & Arsenal Gallery in Białystok. There are also many media partners and institutes and Polish Academy of Science.

In exchange for your videos - you will be everywhere officialy mentioned in credits as Artists/Creators. Both galleries will send you papers and personal documentation from project. Even it will be so far away from Poland.

Contact me please in private message or by mail I am really full of enthusisam, and work on "Suns" DIY. I truly ask for your help!

These are the locations where I am wanting contributors:

Sao Paulo (Brazil) -23.55, -46.63E
Belo Horizonte (Brazil) -19.41N, -43.93E
Timmins (Ontario, Canada) 48.47N, -81.33E
Chicago (Illinois, USA) 41.84N, -87.64E
Kansas City (Missouri, USA) albo Houston (Texas, USA) 29.76N, -95.36E
Juneau (Alaska, USA) 58.30N, -134.41E
Honolulu (Hawaii, USA) 21.31N, -157.84E
Togiak (Alaska, USA) 59.06N, -160.37E
Unalaska (Alaska, USA) 53.88N, -166.53E
Nikolski (Alaska, USA) 52.93N, -168.86E
Papeete (Tahiti, French Polinesia) -13.85N, -171.75E
Suva (Fi) – 18.12N, 178.45E
Namuro (Japan) 43.33N, 145.58E
Sapporo (Japan) 43.06N, 141.35E
Kyoto (Japan)
Tashkient (Uzbekistan) albo Petropavlovsk (Kazakstan) 41.29N, 69.24E
Chelabynsk (Russia) 55.16N, 61.43E
Port Louis (Mauritus, France) -20.16, 57.50E
Ad Dauha (Qatar) 25.28N, 51.53E
Las Palmas (Canary Islands) 28.12N, -15.43E

Best wishes from Poland,


(Above text originally posted in Slow TV Fans Facebook Group)

Further explanation #1 of the project below:

Suns Date: 23:59, 22 September – 23:59, 23 September 2017

Location: National Gallery of Art “Zachęta” in Warsaw / Arsenal Gallery in Białystok
concept and visuals: Łukasz Radziszewski
curator: Piotr Policht
audio: Rafał Ryterski
video editing: Michał Tułowiecki

For four years, I have had a passion for collecting chronometers. I can estimate that deepening my knowledge about the art of watchmaking, conserving watches, and acquiring new ones takes approximately four hours daily and consumes most of my resources. Currently, my interest in measuring instruments and creative reflection upon time profoundly influence my creative activities.

In the text below I describe a situation in which the passage of time is halted by synthetic means through the implementation of multimedia. I have created a project of a 24-hour live-stream broadcast. It would involve displaying sunrise and sunset simultaneously. Both of these spectacles are twin-like landscape frames, even though they express two radically different phases of the day. The sun is depicted identically, standing still above the line of the horizon during the so-called golden hour. Apart from the star, a fragment of the landscape and the current weather conditions are depicted as well.

Sunrise and sunset, the border moments of the day and night cycle are of very short duration and at these moments a change of the sun’s position is particularly noticeable. The illusion of motionlessness can be created through the juxtaposition of a sequence of short 15-minute subsequent shots documenting the same moment. It is worth mentioning that only flowing editing and distortionless broadcasting will allow the moment to be freely extended in real-time.

Extensive preparation and organisation is required for simultaneous sunrise and sunset lasting all day. The programme with live video recording will involve precisely designated stations around the circumference of the Earth located in all time zones. In order to accomplish these objectives, at least seventy video capturing points should be specified and communicated with each other. Then, one station would be used twice – first, during sunrise, and then during sunset. It should be strongly emphasised – both broadcasts are independent constructions. The transmissions of sun’s rise and fall are broadcast from points radically remote from one another, and they register significantly different processes. Only the screening – that is, the juxtaposition – makes the two films clarify each other.

The operation can only be carried out twice a year, during equinoxes – the moments when day and night are equal. In 2017, it is accordingly on 20-21 March and on 22-23 September. Because of its symbolic significance in global culture and astrology, autumnal equinox seems more justified – at that time, the sun enters the sign of Libra.

During the September screening, I will become the dispatcher of time, and the place in which I will reside – the control room. I intend not to sleep and to remain in the state of constant activity. It can be said that I will become a biological programmer. I formulated an extensive list of places and configurations accompanied by exact coordinates and information about the solar phases on 22-23 September 2017. I made the selection on the basis of Internet access in the places. Then, using the Google Images browser, I carried out an introductory assessment of the local landscapes. I entered the names of the places with ‘sunset’ and ‘sunrise’ added – thus, I had certainty about the conditions in the places and I could create a composition out of the sequences.

The most important goal before the screening is communicating and cooperating with many independent places around the planet. Given the universal access to technology, and the clarity and the universal message of sunrise and sunset, I think the project is fairly straightforward to carry out. Difficulties may rise from partially isolated locations, for instance Alaska or the West Pacific region. I have decided that during my attempts at establishing contacts every time I will, in the first place, ask local cultural institutions and activists for help. In this case, authenticating my activity through formalised relationships or recommendations can increase the effectiveness and ensure smooth implementation of the project. The construction of the entrance into cooperation is therefore adapted to the new channels of distributing art.

Łukasz Radziszewski

Further explanation #2 of the project below:

Suns 24 hour transmission 

22-23 September 2017 National Gallery of Art Zachęta, Warsaw & Arsenal Gallery, Białystok artist: Łukasz Radziszewski 
curator: Piotr Policht 
music producer: Rafał Ryterski 

Carbondale, Illinois prepared for months for the solar eclipse of 21 August. The phenomenon required touristic infrastructure and favourable weather with a clear sky. Even the ban on consuming alcohol in public places was lifted in the hope of broadening the influx of money left by tourists which flowed in through the city left desolate after the 2008 economic crash for a moment as brief as the astrological phenomenon.

Even though the star of our planetary system has long lost its status as a deity, the rare phenomena linked with it cause great excitement. For some, they get their hearts pumping, for others – they bring a flow of money to their accounts. We cannot handle the effects of climate change, but we try to involve the 150-million-kilometre-away Sun into the logic of capital and efficiency, just as we do with the resources beneath us. With decent success – solar energy is slowly making its way into our houses, the most popular chain of furniture stores in the world, Ikea, has recently started selling solar panels, in Poland as well.

There still remains the last stronghold unconquered by neoliberalism which is also protected by the Sun – sleep. According to Jonathan Crary’s observations put forward in his 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, it is the sleep that serves as a twofold mental hygiene. In the literal sense, it lets the human brain regenerate and digest the received stimuli. In the psychosocial sense, it is the only crack through which we can escape the imperative of both production and consumption. Even though since the discovery of electricity we are as proficient in turning the crowns of our biological clocks and breaking the daily rhythm of activity and rest as we have never been before, it is the sunrise and the sunset which regulate the hormonal balance responsible for it.

The proverbial “stopping the Sun and moving the Earth” is treated as one of most significant events in the history of culture and science. However, what would happen if it could be achieved in the literal sense and our reality would start resembling the one presented in Łukasz Radziszewski’s work? The golden face of the Sun suspended above the horizon was hitherto associated with unrefined landscapes, two faces next to each other – with equally cheesy sci-fi illustrations. However, just like the sunrise is hard to distinguish from the sunset on some pictures, the line between idyll and nightmare is thin.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Friday, 11 August 2017

Elisabeth Urdal on The Audience's Experience of watching Slow TV

Looking to Hjørundfjord from Slogen in Sunnmørsalpene
The Slow TV Blog is very pleased to welcome a guest author, Elisabeth Urdal from Bergen who has just this summer completed a Masters Degree in Media Science, with qualitative research contributing to Reception Studies on Slow TV. This also forms a unique club of two people who have studied Slow TV at Masters Degree level!

The Audience’s Experience of watching Slow TV

The Norwegian broadcaster NRK's ​​Slow TV programs have had a big audience both in their home country and abroad. But what experiences do the audience get by watching boat - and train journeys, hymn singing and knitting minute by minute?

A recently delivered Masters thesis in Media Science addresses this question. Elisabeth Urdal from the University of Bergen interviewed twelve viewers in two different age groups – between 18-29 years and 49 years and older. Her research showed that it was particularly five experiences Slow TV gave the Norwegian viewers:

  1. Travel experience

One experience the viewers expressed was that Slow TV gave them a travel experience. Several of the programs have been boat and train journeys, such as this summer's “Sommertoget minutt for minutt”. These TV programs showed the entire journey from A to B, allowing the audience to see the view along the way. In this way, the audience got the feeling of being a free passenger who joined the journey from start to finish, over as long time as the journey took.

“They bring us to fjords and mountains that we may not have seen”

  1. Relaxing and hypnotic

Another experience is perhaps the most obvious one – it's relaxing to watch Slow TV. It is a predictable TV genre with a lack of highlights, and most of the time nothing happens. Some of the viewers claimed that Slow TV could be so relaxing that it almost seemed hypnotic.

When they watched the waves or train rails go by, they got into a rhythm where they were "taken into the picture". Several people first discovered this "hypnosis" when they were interrupted by someone who spoke to them or by a ringing phone.

“It's good to relax with Slow TV and disconnect everything and everyone”

  1. Thought- and imagination provoking

A third experience was that Slow TV can evoke thoughts and imagination. No producer has cut out the boring parts, so the viewer himself must find out what's worth watching and what's not. The slow format also makes it possible to notice details that the viewers otherwise may not have seen in a traditional format. Some of the audience compared it to "people watching". In this "activity” you usually sit in a café and study people passing by and maybe fantasize about their lives.

"When you look at things slowly, you have more time to stimulate and find up stories yourself"

  1. “Live feeling”

A fourth experience was the live feeling – a feeling that what's happening, happens now.

Except for some of the broadcasts, the Slow TV productions have all been broadcasted live. The audience not only get to see a small excerpt of the journey or activity, but get to see the whole part, and in real time as it unfolds.

The viewers could probably guess what would happen in the next minutes, but they never knew for sure. This gave an extra thrill to a somewhat unexciting format. Several of the informants therefore sat longer than they indented to in the first place, in case something exciting could happen.

“It was hardly possible to believe, I could not take the time to eat or go to the toilet”

  1. National feeling and community

The experience most of the audience mentioned were the strong national feeling Slow TV provided.

Elisabeth in her Bunad on Norway Day, 17th May
Firstly, Slow TV was sent by the Norwegian public broadcaster, NRK.

Secondly the programs contained typically Norwegian topics, like high mountains and deep fjords, and traditional activities such as knitting, hymn singing and salmon fishing.

Thirdly, and not least, all the Norwegian flags were a symbol of Norway. Several of the viewers said this evoked patriotic feelings in them. In addition, the viewers described a form of national community with the whole population of Norway. The nation either watched the programs at home, or participate with flags and homemade posters in front of the camera.

“We were together on a common project, and you got the strong feeling of being one nation. You felt very Norwegian”

Elisabeth's whole master thesis “Suddenly it happened…nothing - a study of the audience's experience with Slow TV” can be read and downloaded here.

Copyright Elisabeth Urdal, 2017.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Thursday, 29 June 2017

TV - Propaganda machine?

What does TV do to us? A question which becomes very significant when you start studying Slow TV.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Friday, 16 June 2017

Sommertoget - Summer Train Itinerary

A train at Bergen Station - NOT on the itinerary!
Starting on the 27th June, Sommertoget - Summer Train 2017 takes a TV roadshow of sorts around the interior of Norway over 8 weeks. Magazine style broadcasts and moments of Slow TV make up the content.

Below is the overview of the whole itinerary, which will be broken down into posts for each week and day here on The Slow TV Blog as each arrives.

Are you visiting the Summer Train? Or if you take pictures of the show as it happens and would like to share them with The Slow TV Blog, please get in touch.

Sommertoget / Summer Train Route

27th June - Rognan
28th June - Mo i Rana
29th June - Trofors
30th June - Grong
1st July - Steinkjer

Sommertoget / Summer Train rests Sunday and Monday

4th July - Hommelvik
5th July - Støren
6th July - Oppdal
7th July - Dombås
8th July - Åndalsnes

Sommertoget / Summer Train rests Sunday and Monday

11th July - Vinstra
12th July - Moelv
13th July - Rena
14th July - Alvdal
15th July - Røros

A little more about Summer Train 2017 here...

Sommertoget / Summer Train rests Sunday and Monday

18th July - Tynset
19th July - Elverum
20th July - Kongsvinger
21st July - Grorud
22nd July - Eidsvoll

Sommertoget / Summer Train rests Sunday and Monday

25th July - Gran
26th July - Flå
27th July - Finse
28th July - Flåm
29th July - Voss

Sommertoget / Summer Train rests Sunday and Monday

1st August - Ål
2nd August - Hønefoss
3rd August - Stokke
4th August - Porsgrunn
5th August - Notodden

Sommertoget / Summer Train rests Sunday and Monday

8th August - Nelaug
9th August - Marnardal
10th August - Brusand
11th August - Sira
12th August - Vennesla

Sommertoget / Summer Train rests Sunday and Monday

15th August - Bø
16th August - Vestfossen
17th August - Ås
18th August - Råde
19th August - Sarpsborg

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Slow TV and a State of Flow?

Thoughts from Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Slow TV - Getting lost in the moment?

Slow TV - good at generating 'present moments'.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog