If you’ve never watched BBC Four before, then you’re unlikely to be in the target demographic for Slow TV – a languid style of visual storytelling that demands patience and time from its viewers and is intended to offset the hectic pace of modern life. Developed in Norway in the late ’00s and popularised throughout Scandinavia, it came to the UK in its most significant form in May 2015, when BBC Four commissioned a series of Slow TV programmes including a canal trip, the real-time production of three objects in different materials, and birdsong. For Christmas 2015, a sleigh ride in Norway was aired. Some of these ‘episodes’ were over two hours long; none had music or a voiceover.
Iceland’s post-rock titans, Sigur Rós, have made their own version of this phenomenon. It’s called ‘Route One’, lasts 24 hours, and takes viewers on a slow-burning road-trip around Iceland. It’s being broadcast in the country and live-streamed on YouTube around the world; for its soundtrack the band have put one of their new songs, ‘Óveður’, through a piece of “generative music software” called ‘Bronze’. This randomises the various tracks in the song, meaning what you hear at any one moment will probably only exist in that form once.
For Slow TV enthusiasts the video and randomly generated music provide a pretty mesmeric experience; for jokesters there is the YouTube video’s comment feed, which has mainly become about a horse in a field where the camera truck stopped briefly (about five hours ago). Then a man in a horse mask drove past the feed in a car. Ruv, the Icelandic broadcaster, is documenting behind the scenes on the journey and has captured close-up video of the horse for posterity, but Twitter will probably never forget Sigur Horse anyway.