Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy

A spine-tingling show on ASMR is coming to ArkDes

Many ASMR stars made their name on crinkling paper, popping bubbles, and whispering. (Courtesy ArkDes)

ASMR—Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or the tingles you feel on your scalp when someone whispers in your ear—is making the leap to ArkDes, Sweden’s national center for architecture and design in Stockholm.

From April 8 through May 31, WEIRD SENSATION FEEL GOOD will be on display at Boxen, ArkDes’s gallery-within-a-gallery for experimental work. ASMR is a nebulous concept that varies from person to person, but the exhibition will attempt to translate the phenomenon into the physical world and contextualize it as a craft, design typology, and art at the intersection of the technological and the “real” world.

A liquid mirror being poured

A still from the video Pouring a Liquid Mirror in Slow Motion by The Slow Mo Guys (2019). (Courtesy Vegan Fire Media/ArkDes)

As ArkDes notes in the press release for WEIRD SENSATION FEEL GOOD, ASMR is a divisive internet industry. Some people watch videos of whispering, scraping nails, paper crinkling, or popping bubble wrap to relax, but others are just unnerved by it. It doesn’t help that ASMR videos can sometimes veer into incredibly esoteric topics with little delineation of whether something is a “joke” or intended for serious consumption. Still, for many, ASMR represents a way of slowing down and finding their center in an ever-quickening and connected society.

“The incredible growth and emerging appreciation of ASMR over the last decade can tell us much about the way we live today,” said Taylor-Foster in a press release. “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.”

A hand pinching a slab of flesh for ASMR purposes

Marc Teyssier’s 2019 Artificial Skin for Mobile Devices, an example of pleasing tactile feedback. (Courtesy the artist/ArkDes)

ArkDes hasn’t announced the full list of show participants yet, but curator James Taylor-Foster has so far put together a preliminary whos-who of sensory stimulators. That includes audio and visual works from Apple, Björke, IKEA, pieces from pop painter Bob Ross, Marc Teyssier’s Artificial Skin for Mobile Devices (a pinchable, prod-able fake flesh covering for phones), and more.

Multinational architecture studio ĒTER will be designing the exhibition, and design and animation firm PostNew and Irene Stracuzzi will be responsible for the graphic design.

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