quarantine stream nomadic ambience

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Various short films from YouTube Channel Nomadic Ambience

Where You Can Stream It: YouTube

The Pitch: A series of high-quality videos that are part ASMR, part haunting road trip.

Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: Can’t get away right now? We’re all pretty much in the same boat. But with Nomadic Ambience, you can get a glimpse at locations across the world. Stroll through a New York snowstorm; watch the sunset off the coast of Portland, Maine; see the waves crash near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It’s all available at the click of a button.

I often search for ASMR-related videos while I’m writing. More often than not, I have trouble writing while music is playing – I tend to get distracted by the music and can’t concentrate on the words I’m trying to churn out. So when I need something to fill the silence, ASMR or other mood-setting sounds can help. In my search for a new ASMR video one night I stumbled upon the Nomadic Ambience YouTube channel, and was blown away. These aren’t traditional ASMR videos. Instead, they’re high-quality videos that take you all over the world – sometimes moving, sometimes sitting still. The video above, for instance, is set up at Baker Beach in San Franciso. You can watch the night slowly turn into day as the waves crash.

This video has the cameraperson walking through New York City during a light snowstorm. The lighting bounces off the hazy snow drifting down as people on the street pass. It almost looks staged, like we’re glimpsing something created on a Hollywood backlot – but of course, it’s all real.

There’s something about these videos that feel like a memory. Like we’re reaching back into our past to recall some event that plays out like a movie in our mind. I was caught in a rainstorm while walking in New York once, and while it looked and felt nothing like the video above, watching it somehow brings me back there. It brings to mind the line from e.e. cummings: “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond” and “nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals/the power of your intense fragility:whose texture/compels me with the colour of its countries,/rendering death and forever with each breathing”.

Things are shit right now. We can’t really travel, and the places we can travel feel cold and bleak and uninviting. But with videos like this we can watch the sun go down in Portland, Maine, without ever leaving the house. It’s not the same, but that doesn’t make it less lovely.

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