ASMR – Assisted Service for Miracle Reactions

Perhaps there is no better time to question what is the meaning of a sensorial experience than in the current social and historical moment. Thinking the materiality and senses through the use of virtual devices has never been more challenging. While connections are generated and new information is acquired, so are the levels of anxiety increasing, these include FOMO (fear of missing out on what is happening on the web), accelerated levels of visual attention, and time management issues. It is not a surprise that the demand and offer of well-being miraculous online solutions are raising and becoming a trend – from virtual yoga classes to meditation, to binaural beats and hypnosis, and most recently ASMR (a new ‘therapy’ that was born on the Internet). The question that remains to be answered is how does a visual and auditory, filtered and manicured, immaterial connection provide a kinesthetic experience? Moreover, this question also pertains to the online perception and experience of works of art and exhibitions.

Gioia di Girolamo has been developing a body of work, which focuses on the kinesthetic acuity in the digital age. Through a choice of specific and peculiar materials such as fabric, clothing, pillows, silicone, and fabric softener, the artist defies traditional media, its dimension, and the expectations of the dominant visual system. She instigates the viewer to a new sensory experience challenging the multiple ways of sensorial perception. The skin and whichever material comes in contact with it are the means by what the artist starts her practise and research.

For the artist’s new solo show at Dimora Artica, in Milan, Gioia di Girolamo has undergone a further investigation among the unicellular systems of origin and the new globalized ways of seeking sensation. The departure point on this show is an ode to what is invisible and yet, is intrinsically part of the human materiality – the microorganism. These, which are elemental for the possibility of life, are represented as portraits of unicellular forms by the use of the primal and traditional media – painting on canvas. Cryoaea, Reveteria, Affectobia become here worshiped macro beings.

Assisted Service for Miracle Reactions is a site-specific installation of tridimensional works and videos. In order to connect events in our collective memory with the contemporary meaning of images, the artist researches the increasing solutions of self-help available online. Old sacred symbols, rituals, religious practices, are commercially appropriated for the use of a hyper-connected society in desperate need of the immediate feeling of well-being. This installation is the ultimate physical construction of what is happening behind a screen. Upsidedown egg-shaped heads made of clay with nail-polish painting lay on synthetic silicone nests. Its facial incisions are swapped and defy the automatic perception of the smile. Their shape may remind us the Cycladic minimal sculpture shapes as well as of Chinese masks. In A bag full of glittery runes the artist uses a bald head cap as a bag where these little stone-like objects are placed. Instead of alphabetic magical symbols the clay stones, painted in glitter nail-polish, have been carved with allusions to faces and fingers, reminiscing Chinese figurines, wittingly bewildering its origin, and therefore, becoming a globalized visual language – it is now the magic amulet or trinket. Sacred and religious aesthetics, symbols and ideals are all intertwined and mixed up in this ‘New-Brand New Age’, which accomplishes its purpose – miraculous online, non present, problem-solving solutions.

The ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is a contemporary Internet phenomenon, which became a video genre that is exponentially increasing on Youtube. Along the tridimensional works, Gioia di Girolamo presents two videos and approaches this phenomenon in a critical and humorous manner. Continuously resorting to the touch, one screen is placed on a pillow and a small figurine is placed on top of it, receiving its warmth.

The focus of this show, thinking the sensorial activation, emphasizes the importance of questioning of the physical presence of the viewer. How does one today perceive tridimensional objects in a space, the warmth of the screens, and the vapours of perfume that twist and turn around the works? Should one wish to be physically aware, Gioia di Girolamo has created the so much needed Assisted Service for Miracle Reactions. For the ones who will be virtually present, there will be a special ASMR presentation online.

text . Catarina Vaz

curated by Dimora Artica

photos . Massimiliano Costantini

from 21 September to 3 November