A filmmaker is a storyteller who uses more than just words to form their narrative. They record images and edit sounds, creating meaning and evoking a response from their audience. In recent years a swell of filmmakers have been turning their hand to creating what are known as autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) films. Although the terminology is fairly new, the ASMR phenomena has been referenced and used well before it adopted its recent nomenclature. Hannah Maslen and Rebecca Roache‘s online essay, ASMR and Absurdity cites Clemens Setz as identifying a written recording of ASMR in Virgina Woolf’s, Mrs Dalloway. Julie Young in her book ASMR (Idiot’s Guides) suggests that the 1980s show The Joy of Painting – is an example of television that uses ASMR techniques such as Bob Ross’ delicate delivery to camera. In cinema, certain narrations in James Marsh’s docudrama, Winsconsin Death Trip (1999) lend themselves to having a familiar ASMR tone. All these texts come long before the term ASMR was originally coined and demonstrate that a knowing of such sensational responses can be provoked through applying a number of methods. This includes a wide variety of actions and triggers such as whispering, stroking, simple movements and the application of music amongst others. These elements combined or isolated can have an effect on the viewer, which causes them to respond with sensations that have been described as a ‘head orgasm’. It is understood that ASMR is not erotica, but something far more sensuous. The ASMRtists that now produce videos on platforms such as YouTube can gather huge online communities of viewers looking to experience such neurological stimulation. These videos have their own codes and conventions unique to modern ASMR where the ASMRtists apply a number of techniques effectively to draw their audience into a state of sensory relaxation.
D.H Lawrence’s Figs is an extract from a much longer poem by the writer. The film was produced as an experiment initially at creating an ASMR text, but it does not incorporate many characteristics of an ASMR film – with just the whispering narrator remaining. Many sound effects were originally recorded to layer the images, but rather than enriching the experience the film seemed cluttered. The final product is a more stripped back edit using only the singular ASMR technique. Classing this more as a short film that uses an element of ASMR I still hope that the soft, gentle flow of the narrator’s voice is enough to give its audience a head-tingle.
Special thanks to the two assisting filmmakers for helping me with this project: Greg Hinks and Katie Saunders