Slow Sounds of Tracy Aviary

Several years ago I was introduced to the concept of slow TV. Watching a train travel, in real time (but not live), from Bergen to Oslo was enchanting. At the time, slow TV was reaching its pinnacle in Norway, part of regular public programming.  

Don’t let the name fool you - what you’re watching isn’t necessarily slow, it’s just slower than the television programs we’re used to, which provide rapid commentary and character development. This article in The New Yorker summarizes slow TV better than I ever could, but as someone who researches learning, one quote helps frame my own fascination with slow TV:

“Slow TV seems slow in part because, unlike our standard experience of the world, it’s unshaped by interior consciousness. Instead of drowning out its viewers’ inner lives, it seems to want to be a backdrop that can give rise to their own reflections. A slow TV program is like a great view you encounter on vacation: it’s always there, impervious, but it gains meaning and a story depending on what it conjures in your head.”  

Right now we’re all learning to adapt and cope with COVID-19 and one observation I’ve made amidst everything is that we’re finally - albeit, slowly - figuring out how to slow down. Our culture is enveloped with the concept of speed. Every minute of our day is scheduled; we go from one meeting to another, shifting our thoughts from this to that like it’s nothing; and we leave ourselves little time for reflection. The speed at which we work and live is why Richard Louv defined Nature Deficit Disorder, encouraging kids and adults to slow down and reconnect with nature. 

 

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You may be familiar with slow TV and just not recognize it as such. If you stream your favorite version of a yule log during the winter holiday season, you were watching slow TV! And television isn’t the only medium that incites reflection, encourages us to slow down, and gives us “brain tingles.” Radio and podcasts are becoming part of the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) movement. The sounds of knitting needles, typewriters, and brush strokes on a canvas are just a few examples. For some, ASMR alleviates stress and anxiety; personally, I use it as a relaxation tool at the end of the day. 

BBC’s Slow Radio program is one of my favorites. Episodes combine narrative in hushed tones, sounds from nature, singing or chanting from cultures around the world, and more. I also regularly tune in to the shipping forecast - a soothing meditation in its own way. 

In light of Tracy Aviary being closed to visitors, volunteers, and much of its staff, I decided to bring my own version of slow radio to you! Weeks ago, with no visitors on grounds, I recorded a walk around Tracy Aviary. You’ll hear birds in our care, wild birds and mammals, staff working, and my footfalls. Listen below, and let us know what sounds you hear! 

In the words of BBC’s Slow Radio, “Step back, let go, immerse yourself: it’s time to go slow.”

 

Walk Around Tracy Aviary, Part 1

 

Walk Around Tracy Aviary, Part 2

  

- Michelle Mileham, Director of Education