Marvin Unger Soft Talk (2020)

An exploration in social-distance communication and ASMR microchipped in the public space of Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht.

A lack of touch can increase the feeling of loneliness. That's because our brains produce less of the hormone oxytocin, also called the cuddle hormone. Oxytocin has a calming effect on the body and increases empathy. The project Soft Talk or "Do Microchips whisper about electric trees?" is investigating whether ASMR can also manifest in public space.

Listening to the Environment
The user listens and becomes aware of oneself and the environment

Whispering with Strangers
The user overcomes the threshold of talking to strangers by jumping to a more intimate way of conversation: whispering

Messaging the Community
The user leaves a message for the people in the neighbourhood and the online community using speech-to-text, which is projected on the floor and streamed to the RAUM website using CCTV

The whole installation is made of copper, which is antibacterial and offers a lower survival rate of COVID-19 on the surface than other materials. Copper is also a commonly used material to transmit sounds and information.

In two discussion sessions with scientists, artists and curators, among others, we explore what ASMR has to offer public space from different angles. Watch the videos to hear all about the experiment and the experts' reflection on the research.

Psychologist (ASMR) University of Essex: Dr. Giulia Poerio
Designer Researcher: Marijn Bril
Writer/Curator Moderator: Tiiu Meiner

Dramaturgy, Scenography University of Utrecht: Sigrid Merx
Sound Artist Researcher: Julie Rose Bower
Curator ArkDes (Stockholm): James Taylor-Foster
Writer/Curator Moderator: Tiiu Meiner

Technical Support: Jan Hoydem
Photo Credit, Drone Shot: Igor Roelofsen
Production, Copper Cones: Drückerei Hommel

RAUM Utrecht
Projectleiter: Larissa Koers
Curator: Rinke Vreeke
Marketing, Communicatie: Iris Loos
Website: Leonie Dijkstra
Productie Programmering: Joost Ruijter
‘Prachtige Wezens’: Mounhim Tahtahi

Facilitair Management: Quentin Davelaar
Vooronderzoek: Jacob Herrie
Directeur: Donica Buisman
Design research direction: Jop Japenga, Olga van Lingen
Art direction: Marije Hobo, Anouk Diemel, Dennis Vlietinck
Productie: Dennis Mulder, Jesper Groen, Bram Staal