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Unpretty in Pink: The New Age of ASMR

Written by Arts

Globule. A word I have enjoyed ever since my chemistry teacher used it describe glucose oxidase in Year 9. It is texturally evocative, referring to a substance with properties both sticky and gelatinous yet orb-like and self-contained… delicious.

With immaculate depictions of any physical texture or movement at their fingertips, artists can enter a new realm which plays with reality in new and conceptual ways

I am often drawn to this kind of sensual richness, whether words, sounds, patterns or pictures. More recently, I have found the same buttons pressed by Instagram CGI artist Oliver Latta and his page “@ExtraWeg”. Using the latest computer simulation technology, he creates weird and wonderful clips of bodies in various abstract scenarios. One depicts a jelly-limbed figure being slurped up by an enveloping head. Another is of a body’s sluggish walk towards a giant, hyperreal eyeball which melts away upon impact. While I have been following his work for a while, it has recently reached the viral feeds on account of its striking what-the-fuckery. others too, it seems, cannot divert their eyes.

the gap between what is real and simulated has narrowed to a close

The latest BALTIC exhibition, “Digital Citizen” explores the significance of this rising genre of CGI art. An explosion in the progress of computer technology means that we have reached an age where virtually anything can be created with photorealistic accuracy; the gap between what is real and simulated has narrowed to a close. With immaculate depictions of any physical texture or movement at their fingertips, artists can enter a new realm which plays with reality in new and conceptual ways. In Oliver Latta’s case, he creates a plastic world in pastel pink and in it pairs human bodies with jarring material attributes: a pourable crowd, a deflating head, a squidgy limb or a malleable eyeball. It’s captivating and revolting- what Warburton calls “the digital grotesque”.

This is a part of the rising genre of Instagram satisfaction porn: videos that seem to satisfy an unrealised itch and create a feeling of calmness and completion. Entire accounts are now dedicated to slime-squishing, pimple-popping or tofu-slicing. ASMR uses various materials and sounds to sensually arouse a specific tingling feeling. “The digital grotesque” tickles this urge for disgusting yet delicious content. However, with limitless effects, surfaces and finishes to play with, it can warp what seem like a physical reality. Gloopy. Globular. Glorious. Who knows where this will end up?

Last modified: 22nd July 2020

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