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Autonomous Meridian Sensory Response: from Internet subculture to audiovisual therapy

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ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is the name given to a pleasant sensation that can be felt most commonly on the scalp and can be triggered by various gentle sounds (like whispers, crinkles or tapping), smooth and repetitive visual stimuli, personal attention (like the touch of a hairdresser or a masseur) or other events. ASMR is often associated with a general feeling of relaxation and peace. Whilst academic research on the sociological, artistic, sensory and cognitive dimensions is still in its infancy ASMR has grown into a worldwide, cross-disciplinary, inter-cultural, multi-lingual social media sensation. This paper outlines the rise of ASMR as Internet subculture from its inception as ‘whispering community’ on Internet platforms and blogs, to become a truly popular (i.e. made by the people) platform for creative expression, self-made holistic therapy and in some instances true artistic audiovisual endeavours. This paper comments on the reasons behind the rise of the ASMR community as a fertile ground for creative expression. Audiences’ expectations are dictated by the attention-induced nature of the sensory experience, a factor that spawned an exceptionally perceptive viewership if one considers the inherently fragmented essence of ubiquitous streaming media and the impatient scanning and skipping modes of reception it encourages. ‘ASMRtists’ thus enjoy a privileged relationship with audiences who are not impressed with the relentless pour of energy and information from social media platforms and treasure, instead, the slow, the quiet and the subtle. Examples from various ASMR content creators will be analysed from the compositional standpoint, highlighting technical and idiomatic similarities with forms of improvisatory practices and experimental artistic languages such as Musique Concrète. The paper will also illustrate recent audiovisual projects related to ASMR carried out at Keele University and will introduce the audience to planned developments towards ASMR related content delivered through mobile platforms.


(2017). Autonomous Meridian Sensory Response: from Internet subculture to audiovisual therapy.

Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2017
Publication Date Jul 10, 2017
Journal Proceedings of the Electronic Visualisation and the Art Conference (EVA London 2017)
Pages 395-402
Keywords ASMR, Whispering, Community, YouTube, Tingling, Tingles, Sensation, ASMRtist, ASMRer, Chills, Frisson, Healing, Therapy, Musique, Concrète, Electroacoustic, Anecdotal, Composition, Internet, Culture
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