Last month I was invited to participate in Black Cube's one-night exhibition Drive In: Car Culture, curated by Cortney Stell. I was one of twelve artists who exhibited in the car-themed event. Alongside Denver artist Stephan Herrera, we created a performance titled ASMR Tune-Up. I turned the inside of my car into a blacked-out deprivation space and invited visitors inside to experience auditory induced meditations. This was done by dressing in mechanics' clothes and performing car "tune-ups" for individuals. Stephan and I created various sounds associated with ASMR, employing car parts such as an oil filter, bottle of cleaning fluid, pressure gauge and an exhaust pipe.
Before the Drive In exhibition, Cortney asked the artists what our relationships were to our cars, and how that might inform what we create. I decided early on I wanted to create a performance allowing me share a car hobby of mine.
At my day job, I like to utilize my car as break space when office quarters are cramped. Stephan had recently introduced me to ASMR videos on YouTube, and I listen to these during my car breaks.
ASMR stands for Autonomous-Sensory-Meridian-Response (if you're wondering, that's not a real scientific definition) and can give listeners "tingles" and calm sensations. The videos' performers do this by scratching and tapping surfaces, whispering, and creating other appealing sounds through various means. Some of the ASMR performers like to do role playing while they are creating noises and loosely impersonate things like doctors, hairdressers, flight attendants etc. This act can take on an absurd sort of cognitive dissonance, and the videos start to feel like unintentional performance art. I tried to incorporate this dissonance into my performance; embodying an ASMR performer pretending to be a mechanic, rather than personifying a believable car mechanic.