Wikipedia describes ASMR as ‘An experience characterised by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia and may overlap with frisson.”
How does sound manifest into a physical sensation in the body?
I was fascinated by the cult ASMR phenomena.
How could I harness the power of sound in an immersive environment and make my viewers actually feel something in their bodies - how far could I push this as a VR filmmaker?
Emma had had a car accident several years back and suffered PTSD. She sought soothing videos on YouTube and found a softly spoken woman teaching a Russian class. Tuning into her videos, they had calming effects, but also the whispering triggered an ASMR response in Emma’s body. The sound put her in a state of relaxation and situated her right in the moment, and eased her pain. That’s when Emma saw a creative opportunity to make her own videos.
Role play in the videos plays a key component to how ASMR videos work. The viewers are addressed directly by the Youtube artist. This direct form of communication Emma tells me; triggers (in some people) a physical memory response, and is nostalgic of when a teacher, parent or relative gave you close personal attention when you were a child that perhaps we now lack in our adult lives.
The other profound and intriguing thing about this phenomena, is that hand movements and the soft; deliberate way someone blinks has a hypnotic and enchanting trigger reaction in the person engaging with the films. I found the power that the videos had over me intoxicating at times. As a Virtual Reality Director I wanted to see if these artistic elements used in a two dimensional plane had even more power in a 360 immersive format.