WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD is an exhibition at ArkDes curated by James Taylor-Foster that, caught up in the wake of #coronavirus, has opened with a digital vernissage. It is about ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, a static-like, tingling in the body that is triggered by certain effects and sounds such as whispering, tapping, and brushing. At the beginning seen as a figment of the imagination that has now become wide-spread, ASMR has mainly been developed through youtube videos by ASMRtists (AKA ASMR artists). However, as it is now being used in advertising and therapy, this exhibition is a long overdue—and timely—look at something that really gets under the skin. It brings about a discussion of feelings, of a new economy of care, of the power of touch, of a sense of collectivity—all created from the distance of a screen. Aside from the ASMRtists’ works, it includes an atmospheric exhibition design by the studio ēter that includes pink pillow-lined walls and blue-tinted hands as headphone holders. The exhibition is an innovative and thoughtful look at the experiences of designing for feelings, both online and offline. Below you can read more about the exhibition as well as check out some starting points to explore, first-hand, ASMR.
Ph. Johan Dehlin
Type “ASMR” into YouTube and you will meet a stream of faces and hands, microphones and materials, and makeshift sets. These videos exist inside the world of the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response—a static-like feeling of low-grade euphoria or deep calming, triggered by gentle sound, touch, and movement.
WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD explores this emergent world as a physical reaction, a revolutionary internet culture, a technology-driven craft, and a field of design. ASMR mediates between mind and body to inject the Internet with softness and intimacy. But it is not limited to the digital sphere: it is a dynamic creative craft and an emergent field of design, loved by some and unsettling to others. Against the backdrop of growing anxiety and loneliness, connection, and disconnection, ASMR offers a lens through which to understand new forms of mental and physical wellness in the context of an accelerated global society.
James Taylor-Foster, Curator of Contemporary Architecture and Design at ArkDes and curator of the exhibition, says: “The incredible growth and emerging appreciation of ASMR over the last decade can tell us much about the way we live today. At a moment governed by a feverish speed, ASMR offers slowness. In harnessing the very technologies it seeks to subvert—hyperconnectivity and the Internet, the screen, and streaming platforms—it carves out a niche for kindness, care, empathy, and new forms of hospitality online.”
He continues: “WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD is a project that presents ASMR as an emergent creative field. At the same, it deploys ASMR as a vehicle through which we can understand the evolution of digital intimacy and emergent structures of collective feeling.”
Boxen provides space or alternative voices to inspire discussions about architecture, design, and their relationship to society. Designed by Dehlin Brattgård Arkitekter
Held in Boxen an architectural addition to the museum hall designed by Dehlin Brattgård Arkitekter for fast-changing, experimental exhibitions, the exhibition brings together a collection of works of ASMR in a cross-section of global ASMR culture. From the first whisper video published on YouTube by ASMRtist WhisperingLife, to works by the likes of IKEA, Apple Inc., and Björk, the show will feature both audio works and audiovisual works. Objects of design will also be on display, including the only prototype of Marc Teyssier’s Artificial Skin for Mobile Devices. The exhibition will also present works by world-famous painter and TV-host Bob Ross (The Joy of Painting, PBS), marking the first time that they have been displayed outside of the USA. You can find a full list of participants here.
CURATOR: James Taylor-Foster / EXHIBITION PRODUCER: Halla Sigurðardóttir / EXHIBITION DESIGN: ĒTER / GRAPHIC DESIGN: Irene Stracuzzi ✕ PostNew / INSTALLATION: Markus Eberle, Stefan Mossfeldt / PRODUCTION (PROGRAMMING): Elisabet Schön / DIGITAL COMMUNICATION: Justina Hüll / TRANSLATION: Astrid Trotzig
More triggers for thought:
“We don’t even really want to feel how radically our body and brain has been expanded by [the smartphone]. … Good design is an aesthetic against the shock that design is changing us so much, changing the world so much, even that design has become the world.”–Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley Are We Human? Notes on Archaeology of Design (2016), from the exhibition booklet
Screenshot of the Archive of Feelings
“The wheel is an extension of the foot. The book is an extension of the eye. Clothing, an extension of the skin. Electric circuitry, an extension of the central nervous system.”–Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Mediusm is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967), from the exhibition booklet
And our ASMR pick: