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Helle Breth Klausen

'Safe and Sound': What technologically-mediated ASMR is capable of through sound

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Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, colloquially known as ASMR, is the name of a physiological sensory reaction today most commonly found on YouTube as a video phenomenon in which auditory and visual triggers are created in order to cause a relaxing, tingling sensation in the audience. Relatively little research has examined ASMR. This article combines media and sound studies in providing a theoretical framework for understanding what technologically-mediated ASMR is – and is capable of – through sound in particular. To do so, I suggest para-haptic interaction as a theoretical elaboration of the term ‘para-social relation’ as coined by Horton & Wohl in 1956, adding to it the concepts of ‘social audio-grooming’ and ‘telepresence’ in order to argue that ASMR can be felt as ‘haptic’ in more than one sense; physically as well as imagined through sonically binaural qualities and narratives (role-plays) supported by sound, vibrations, and image. Throughout the article, the theoretical and analytic arguments will be supported by an illustrative sample of ASMR videos on YouTube.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSoundEffects
Volume8
Issue1
Pages (from-to)87-103
Number of pages16
ISSN1904-500X
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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