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 FEELS 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.
As ArkDes notes in the press release for WEIRD SENSATION FEELS 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.”
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.