Czech ASMR / Sweets and International Relations

Bookshop 05 04 — 06 05
opening — 4 4 2017

The Autonomous Infected Sensory Meridian Response project, presented on a Youtube channel called Czech ASMR, uses a specific form of Youtube videos known by the abbreviation (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). The individual words of this term can be deciphered as autonomous (A), sensory (S), meridian (M), and response (R). The term was coined by internet safety expert Jennifer Allen in 2010, but the phenomenon as such first appeared in the media in 2007. It is a genre based on eliciting emotional and physical reactions to sound or the synthesis of image and sound. The people producing ASMR videos (often women, but far from being the only ones) try to create a non-confrontational atmosphere that puts their consumers into a state of relaxation or (as some have ambitiously set out) meditation. 

The person who would like to keep a critical distance is instead drawn into a state of fascination. The ASMR reaction, sometimes described as an “auditory orgasm,” is often accompanied by goosebumps. It is triggered by various impulses. The most common triggers are whispering, tapping or scratching of fingernails on various surfaces, materials and objects, but also mouth sounds, eating food, combing hair and a plethora of other stimuli. The content of the words is not important here, it is the form that matters. As far as the objects are concerned, a variety of products are used in front of the camera. Bloggers fondle them talk about them and the feelings they evoke. The relationship they manifest to commodities here fits in with late capitalist society and its consumer fetishization. 

This is only reinforced by the sexual subtext that ASMR inevitably evokes in its viewers. There is also a common form of so-called role play, where the blogger plays a role. For example, the viewer is a patient in the doctor’s office and the protagonist of the video is examining them. The formality of these videos, functioning as an audio-visual anesthetic, is deliberately content-free and aseptic. The title of the project, Autonomous Infected Sensory Meridian Response, enriched with the word infected, suggests the desired intention. To infuse this form with content that conflicts with how it itself functions. To infect it. Will anything happen if disturbing information is conveyed in a soothing way? The channel itself is not declared as an art project.