For just a decade now, this rapid to rise phenomenon—now popularly referred to as ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)—has become the fastest growing social media vlogging channel. Having started out as an ‘unnamed weird feeling’, these careful whispers trigger the euphoria and the sensoria among those who seek refuge—to relax, to play, to escape. Curiously, we suddenly find ourselves asking: What human needs prompt us to seek out these uncommon experiences? How do we even recognize these sensations? Who are the prime influencers of this exhilarating movement and what type of ASMR experience do they ‘tap, scratch, and whisper’ into? What realms has ASMR pierced and punctured through and how has technology aided in this perforation?
Now creeping in with more exciting and sensational developments, ASMR artists have undeniably began to penetrate (and very soon, conquer) the virtual realm in their quest for more people to experience the ‘tingle’. Let us take a look back at trials taken over the last ten years and trace its triumphs. Not surprisingly, the public response to this highly-debated art vs pseudoscience continues to deafen the senses with its increasing volume and intensity.
Just a little over a decade ago, American JENNIFER ALLEN participated in an online discussion about this sensation and in 2010, coined the term ASMR—Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Within the same milestone year, she has significantly contributed to its development as she founded the ASMR Facebook Group and created its official website. A year later, she followed this up with the creation of the Facebook ASMR Page and lobbied to keep the first ASMR entry in Wikipedia.
In an interview conducted by Dr. Craig Richard of ASMR University, Allen vividly remembers having experienced this ‘strange occurrence’ in her early 20s. Her response was to dig deeper into what this ‘weird sensation’ was and realized that ‘nobody seemed to know where to start’ which prompted her to open a Facebook group and create a term ‘that would be easy for people to talk about without fear of ridicule’—she has set out her mission for the name to help the community survive.
The current widespread of the use of the term ASMR within its burgeoning community has delighted Allen as it has ‘allowed those experiencing this sensation to comfortably discuss it with their friends and family’. Further, she strongly believed that ‘self-acceptance from consensus has also enabled some people to allow themselves to explore the experience deeper’.
Famous and highly-paid American landscape artist BOB ROSS is regarded as an ‘accidental pioneer of ASMR’ whose classic instructional television program ran for a decade and became a fundamental source of learning-by-doing video tutorials in the mid1980s. His television show was a hit worldwide as may be attributed to his simple and modest goal: teach people how to paint fast and easy. Ross’ trademark show The Joy of Painting was not only highly informative and educational; it was more interestingly comforting and soothing—perhaps as a calming effect of his visual creations combined with the relaxing sound of his voice and his brushstrokes.
sources: discoverasmr.com, bobross.com
A writer, an educator, and an activist, JULIE WEITZ is more popular for her multi-media art. In 2016, the Los Angeles-based artist Weitz was the first to have mounted an ASMR-driven video installation Touch Museum as part of the Young Projects Los Angeles Exhibition. This exciting work gained international attention for her creative use and application of ASMR into her dynamic art. As a result, she was invited to collaborate with London-based Bompas & Parr for an ASMR-inspired short film project for the Scottish Distillery brand Glenmorangie.
Weitz’s Touch Museum milestone work was described to have brought its visitors mixed feelings of calmness, light-heartedness, and even a euphoric sense. Pleasurably tingling, the installation stimulated the visual, auditory, and cognitive triggers of those who experienced it. Intentional and deliberate on the part of the artist, this ASMR embodiment powerfully made the audience feel the videos’ uttered words without necessarily hearing them.
Interestingly, her aim for this installation was to deconstruct the digital culture through physical form. She proudly confessed in an interview by Los Angeles Times that she was ‘definitely playing with that illusory experience of image’. To achieve this, she has woven the digital and physical realms by using practical effects in her videos instead of relying solely on computer-generated images. Hers was a brave multi-media interpretation of the creative use of mundane objects such as chains, Greco-Roman sculptures, and other kitschy pieces deconstructed and reconstructed. To Weitz, ‘classical sculpture is like an ancient version of an avatar—this idealized form of the self’.
sources: julieweitz.com, latimes.com
Paris ASMR is the YouTube channel synonymous to its French creator FLORIAN ‘FLO’ BOULLOT whose videos are viewed by millions of ASMR enthusiasts. One of his team’s viral ASMR videos is Seul Dans Le Louvre which is a uniquely relaxing virtual tour of the Louvre’s magnificent collection. Flo’s take on the museum goers’ experience has definitely changed as he challenged the norms of this very intimate and personal cultural interaction with masterpieces hung on walls and standing on plinths and pedestals. As if enticing you to go into a quiet conversation with great works of art, Flo’s magnetic narration enlivens as it lends colorful voices to the paintings, sculptures, and installations.
South Korean company LG ELECTRONICS, a global innovator in consumer goods and technology, has bravely sailed along the tides of ASMR in its latest product developments. Just within the last quarter of 2019, it has launched an audio-innovated model for its LG G8X ThinQ smartphone particularly developed with an ASMR recording capability.
This forward-thinking prototype may initially raise eyebrows but LG’s innovation team is solid in its vision of ‘pushing the boundaries of sound recording’. This phone’s ASMR features allow for the recording of analog sounds resulting to an audio content that is ‘purer than anything recorded on a smartphone to date’. Indeed, the insights of YouTubers in Korea have become valuable inputs to this product’s innovation and as envisioned, LG’s disruptive contribution to the unstoppable projectile motion of ASMR’s fame.
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