On the 9th of February, it is exacty 100 years ago since the Svalbard Treaty was signed in Paris, granting Norway sovereignty over the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.
On Friday, history's longest slow-TV broadcast is kicked off at NRK, which, during the nine days leading up to the anniversary date, bring viewers around Svalbard - or "terra nullius" (no man's land), as the island was referred to 100 years ago.
High North News has been granted permission to stream the entire broadcast live on our website as well.
Project Manager Thomas Hellum, who is the mastermind behind all the previous slow-TV productions from NRK, refers to the Svalbard series as the ultimate slow-TV project where you can join the tour, learn and experience - even without going there physically.
"Through 17 cameras, an abundance of stories, history and information, all accompanied by Norwegian and Sámi music, we offer viewers from all over the world the closest and most sustainable way possible to experience the real deal. This is the slowest – and at the same time the most amazing - slow-TV production so far".
HNN Editor-in-Chief on board
Chief editor Arne O. Holm is onboard throughout the journey around Svalbard and serves as Svalbard expert and commentator for NRK. He moved to Svalbard in 1999 and lived there for six years; three years as editor at Svalbardposten, three years as a guide. But the journeys, the trips, the interests have been more or less ongoing since the mid-1980s. And they continue.
"I first went to Svalbard in 1986, I believe. Years are not my strong side. That is why I also placed a "ban" on such issues during NRK's minute-by-minute trip around Svalbard. I didn't quite escape it, but when I was in doubt, and I usually was, the answer was 'earlier'," he says.
Svalbard's history is extremely fascinating, but does not necessarily rest on annuals, Holm points out:
"For me, it is also about people and nature. The icy, frozen wilderness where you, as a human, is the only thing that moves. In addition to the polar bears and other animals that miraculously manage to feed around 78 degrees North. No trees, no signs of nature that could reveal wind direction."
Couldn't say no
When asked why he agreed to be an onboard commentator 24/7 for nine days, he responds: "Why did I say yes? The question is wrong. Is it possible to say no to a trip around Svalbard? When it is also a challenge that gives me the opportunity to contribute to increasing knowledge of nature, but perhaps first and foremost the people who inhabit this archipelago in the high north. Who chose a life, now as well as "in the past"."
He goes on to say that it has been fun working with professional people from NRK.
"I think 16 cameras were turned on around the clock. In the bow, in the air, on the deck, almost everywhere. And sometimes they also caught me in a mix of interviews and more prose-like observations, every night for as long as the journey lasted. A kind of philosophical log book."
An ongoing story
Holm describes the journey as "a marvelous boat trip where you go from beautifully set tables to rocking inflatables".
"From the helm to old fishing stations, through the countless landings along the way. And at the same time; a journey through a zoo where we are the guests. A mix of luxury and expedition, a journey through climate change and high skies. From storms and cold degrees to sunshine and heat," he says and concludes:
"For me, this is an extension of the work we do at High North News, at the High North center, at Nord University. An ongoing tale about the northern regions and the Arctic. We owe it to the surroundings, we who are fortunate enough to be employed at a knowledge institution.
The broadcast spans across nine days, five hours and fifteen minutes - or 13,319 minutes-by-the-minute. The entire voyage is broadcasted without interruption on NRK2 and on NRK TV from 31 January to 9 February 2020.
The Svalbard - minute by minute voyage:
Taped live stream from Friday, January 31 at 6 pm CET - until Sunday, February 9 at 11:59 pm:
- Day one: Departure Longyearbyen - Lloyds Hotel
- Day two: Lloyds Hotel - Smeerenburg
- Day three: Smeerenburg - Bock Fjord
- Day four: Bock fjord - Murchinson Fjord
- Day five: Murchinson fjord - Hinlopen Strait
- Day six: Hinlopen strait - Boltodden
- Day seven: Boltodden - Burger Bay
- Day eight: Burger Bay - Recherche Fjord
- Day nine: Recherche Fjord - Nordenskiöld Glacier - Longyearbyen