Deeply moved by Blue Room, a beauty of a video editorial we saw at the New York Times recently, we were thrilled to see that it had been made by Merete Mueller who collaborated on some Improvised Life projects years ago. It shows incarcerated men and women watching nature videos on loop, in a mental health experiment to explore how seeing nature impacts their experience of isolation and the relentlessly bleak environments in which they must live. Viewing nature videos in the “Blue Room” was offered to inmates who were struggling emotionally who would often end up in solitary confinement.

The effects are palpable. We see the subtle changes of expression as the participants are visibly soothed and transported, as the sounds and scenes of the natural world antidote the relentless clatter and control of the prison environment. Writes Merete:

This film invites audiences to slow down, become quiet and experience the contrast between the stark, industrial environment of prison and the natural world that exists just beyond its walls.

The film illuminates how essential access to nature is to well-being and its ability to calm and heal and help us escape our various prisons. We also got a big reminder of the gifts we have all around us, and often take for granted. Watching a video of the ocean, one man reflects:

All the places I’ve never been. All the beautiful, beautiful, simple things that I just ignored my whole life.

View more of Merete’s films here.

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