360 Audio Sensory Meridian Response VR Sound Healing film

Emma; AKA ASMR artist WhispersRed and I met and talked for hours about the weird and wonderful world of ASMR (Auto-Sensory Meridian Response) huddled in a caf with endless cups of tea on a dank dark afternoon in January 2017.  .

Fascinated by the power behind the Youtube cult phenomenon; ASMR has millions of people tuning in every day to receive body tingles and relaxation.

What is it exactly?  The gentle whispering of Bob Bob Ross (the softly spoken artist who became a huge Youtube celebrity) could be one of the inspirations behind a generation of softly spoken ASMR artist personalities who create personal attention videos online for their adoring audience on a wide spectrum of Youtube channels.

Addressing their viewers directly; often in elaborate role play outfits, the artists whisper directly to camera as if to give you their full personal attention.  People tune in to relax and switch off after a long day at work/school.

Engaging with ASMR sound grounds you squarely in the present.  Focusing on anything other than the here and now when engaging with ASMR is actually really hard to do.  So it’s an amazing way to tune out past and future thoughts.  This brings about great peace.  Along with this calmness, some people who watch the videos experience tingles across their skin, up their spine and into their heads.  I must admit, it happens to me!

The ASMR artist community have a varied and wonderful selection of videos they make – dressing up as hotel receptionists eager to check you in, to optometrist examinations to role playing your big sister do your prom make-up.  It’s endlessly mesmerising.

Often experiences from childhood -like when your mum brushed your hair or when a teacher at school sat with you drawing with crayons in a note book- it was these moments that created micro-intimate sound memories that have taken root in our childhood subconscious.  When we hear similar sounds in the present moment, they release a comforting memory/physiological response that puts us back into a state of feeling cared for and nurtured.  For some people an unconditional love sensation is triggered.

400,000 subscribers and growing steadily – Emma’s popularity is going from strength to strength.

When I was shooting this video in Barcelona, in the 48 hours we spent together, Emma had (I seem to remember her telling me) a whopping 700+ new subscribers.  The videos she makes are cherished and highly anticipated by her adoring fans.

It seems that we are turning more and more to the internet and seeking out intimacy and relaxation through an online connection that perhaps we lack in our daily ‘offline’ worlds.

The personal attention given to the viewer in the videos; coupled with the soothing sounds that trigger tingling sensations are what draws in an ever increasing crowd of ASMR seekers.

WhispersRed’s videos being 2D are immersive in the fact that the viewer suspends their disbelief and buys into the role play scenarios that Emma presents.

Emma and I wanted to experiment within a 360 environment.  How does the suspension of the viewer’s disbelief change during the 360 experience?  Do the ASMR sounds you are listening to double down on the physiological response when you are in VR?  Is it more intense?  And how do non-ASMR followers respond to the experience in this medium?

This is a collaboration to create a 360 total immersion Virtual Reality film that puts the viewer in the heart of an ASMR experience, with no escape.  A film without edges.  You are fully submerged in the binaural sound and virtual environment of WhispersRed’s role play.

It will be fascinating to get feedback from this film and see what effects bringing ASMR into VR has on the viewer – is the intensity a power to be harnessed and add to the theatre of watching VR?  Will this change the future of VR entertainment and bring a physical feeling back into story telling?

I’d like to see if this stimulates any weird and wonderful sensations within you.  Drop me a line and let me know what you think.