Press: As the popularity of ASMR videos rises, this new art form is drawing the local art scene’s attention

By Deena Lilygren for LEO Weekly

April 26, 2019

Everyone thinks they know what ASMR is. If someone once saw a YouTube video of an ASMR artist eating fried chicken, that’s what they think it is. If they once saw a video of a woman suggestively licking a microphone tagged “ASMR,” that’s what it is. Some people think it’s repulsive. That it’s borderline pornography. That it’s utterly incomprehensible. It doesn’t help that one of the few ASMR artists who managed to go viral is a little girl (Life with MaK). The genre is easy to dismiss.

However, ASMR has emerged as a legitimate art form. ASMR technically refers to the “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” — the pleasant tingling sensation some people experience from audio or visual stimuli, but its usage has evolved to include the videos that feature ASMR content. It requires creativity, craft and performance. In fact, every ASMR artist must be a writer, performer, editor, director and producer. Sometimes, a measure of music, stanza of poetry, or a phrase of dance is so beautiful it gives us a physical reaction —ASMR artists do the same thing by crafting sound, atmosphere, and movement (it’s not all about sound). The platform that helped it take off is YouTube, but as more people recognize the innovative work in the ASMR genre, we’re going to see the genre merge with other disciplines. For example, one of our hometown ASMR artists, Grapes Leaf ASMR on YouTube, has already merged ASMR with yoga, fashion and even ballet. Next, she’s looking toward a musical collaboration.

ASMR videos by nature create the illusion of intense intimacy between the viewer and the artist — imagine watching daily videos of someone maintaining constant eye contact while whispering in your ear. Despite ASMR having gradually inched toward the mainstream, most people aren’t sure what to do with it or where it falls within the arts scene. But artists aren’t “most people” — we’re curious, open-minded and a bit thievish and can recognize when we see elements that will fit into our own work.

And ASMR artists offer a lot to borrow from. The problem for anyone interested in collaborating with a local ASMR artist is they’re remarkably difficult to track down. YouTube performers with any kind of following must work hard to maintain their privacy — particularly in this genre. Many ASMR artists, mostly women, have left the craft behind due to stalkers, harassment and doxxing.

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