'Weird Sensation Feels Good: The World of ASMR' opens at the Design Museum

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'Weird Sensation Feels Good: The World of ASMR' opens at the Design Museum
ASMR Arena. Photo: Ed Reeve for the Design Museum.

LONDON.- Join the Design Museum for ‘Weird Sensation Feels Good: The World of ASMR’, an exploration of the online phenomenon known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the design story of an evolving internet sensation through a series of 40 audio, visual, and tactile works. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design.

ASMR is a term that describes a physical sensation: euphoria or deep calm, sometimes a tingling in the body. In recent years an online audience of millions has grown, dedicated to watching the work of designers and content creators who try to trigger this feeling in their viewers. This is done by whispering or eating, touching or tapping, and far more besides. For ASMRtists, everything has the possibility to be trigger a response in experiencers.

ASMR injects the Internet with softness, kindness, and empathy. As a movement, it allows us to understand another side to the Internet: one that is slow, gentle, and centred on self-care. The exhibition traces how people across the globe are using ASMR to help cope with anxiety, stress, insomnia and loneliness.

Enter the exhibition and dive into the world of Visual ASMR. Wander through a section dedicated to mesmerising 3D motion design, immediately establishing the artform’s close relationship with emerging technologies. Alongside digital works, experience paintings and corresponding episodes of The Joy of Painting by the celebrated TV artist and ‘Godfather of ASMR’ Bob Ross – the first time they are being exhibited in the UK.

Meet twelve ground-breaking ASMRtists and hear their definitions of the movement. Discover mysterious objects that embody these definitions, including a salivating tongue by artist Tobias Bradford, and researcher Marc Teyssier’s prototype of an artificial skin for a mobile device.

Next, walk through a live studio-space created by artist and researcher Julie Rose Bower, exploring the act of close-listening through five unique installations including echoes in a cave, the crunch of snow underfoot, the sound of a coin dropping into a wishing well, and more.

Fall into the ASMR Arena – a structure made from a continuous pillow where you can immerse yourself in a selection of audio-visual works. Explore examples of Unintentional ASMR that celebrate the variety of ways that the feelings can be triggered and, in particular, cases that go viral as a result – including hushed words from Björk, woodblock carving, footage of intricate beadwork at the V&A.

Be guided through a landscape of Intentional ASMR, shedding light on some of the more specialist practices of ASMRtists from around the world. Expect to see an instructional ASMR baking video, traditional wet-shaving in a Japanese barbershop, and dogs getting haircuts in a Korean dog-grooming salon. Also featured are examples commissioned by IKEA and Virgin Atlantic, showing how ASMR techniques are used to make soothing content in a commercial context.

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