In Search of Slow Media

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For those overstuffed on fast food, there’s the slow food movement. Find capitalism voracious and unsustainable? Join the ranks of the slow money movement. Even a cadre of designers and architects have taken on slow principles when developing products or constructing buildings. But what about for those of us overdosing on electronic media?

The slow media movement advocates conscientious media production and scaled-back media consumption. The idea got a little buzz in 2010, most notably for the 14-point Slow Media Manifesto. But for all the Manifesto’s good intentions, social media is more popular and distracting than ever, advertising and public relations continue to supplant independent media production, and we’re still killing tons of time in front of Kindles, iTunes, and Hulu.

According to RealSEO, the average person watches nearly 100 videos on YouTube every month, and watches about 10 hours of online video across various websites. What if those 10 hours were allotted to just one video? Prolific blogger Jason Kottke found a collection of YouTube videos uploaded by user TehN1ppe that do just that: repeat for 10 hours straight, effectively an online eternity. One video shows Nintendo-era plumber Mario climbing a vine for 600 minutes straight. Another repeats the ominous horn in the film Inception probably 18,000 times. It’s a different take on slow media. These videos transcend monotony and induce a sort of media euphoria. So, without further ado, here’s 10 hours of epic saxophone playing:

But, really, 10 hours is nothing compared to 1,000 years. About 11 years ago, composer Jem Finer created the Longplayer project, an online musical composition that will “play without repetition until the last moment of 2999, at which point it will complete its cycle and begin again.” Longplayer sounds (at least in its current state) quite Zen, with soft mallets striking metal bowls. If there was ever a song to subvert the cheap immediacy of pop music, Longplayer is it.

Longplayer succeeds on grounds of conceptual merit, while TehN1ppe’s videos seem to merely critique the emptiness of online culture. Is long media a solution to our media woes, or simply a manifestation of it? You’ll have to check back.

Image by bogenfreund, licensed under Creative Commons.

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