Welcome to Slow TV. There’s nothing exciting about it, and that’s the whole idea.
In this format, you get videos of mundane, slow-paced events, like a train ride, people knitting, fire crackling, and so on. The point is to find calmness and comfort from the near-nothingness of the audio-visual experience, something that today’s “news” channels and entertainment television do not deliver.
Train Driver’s View is an example of a YouTube channel in this genre. It streams footage of train rides from the driver’s point of view 24x7. The trains pass through stunning wintry and snowy landscapes, as you can see in the videos above and below.
The concept of slow TV programming was derived from Andy Warhol’s 1963 film Sleep, which showed poet John Giorno sleeping for more than five hours. It was only popularised in 2009 by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, which broadcast a seven-hour train journey (video below) that gained a surprising following.
This experimental TV format has since started trickling to other countries, slowly gaining pace. In the summer of 2016, Icelandic band Sigur Rós unveiled a 24-hour slow TV event live on Iceland’s national television, also on YouTube (video below), which featured the band’s road journey around the perimeter of Iceland while they played a live-generated remix of the band’s new song Óveður.
Last Sunday, the TV channel SBS Viceland ran a 17-hour version of The Ghan, a documentary of a journey aboard a passenger train from Adelaide to Darwin in Australia. Again, there are no dialogue, action, plots, characters or, pretty much, anything at all except the relaxing view. In spite of that, SBS’s telecast of The Ghan’s three-hour version in Australia averaged more than 400,000 viewers.