Worlding Soft Worlds, public talk by resident Claire Tolan 20 February 2016


On ASMR, SHUSH SYSTEMS, and Worldbuilding for Role Playing Games

Public talk by Blitz resident Claire Tolan (Berlin_
February 20th, 7pm

“It mat­ters what sto­ries tell sto­ries, it mat­ters what thoughts think thoughts, it mat­ters what worlds world worlds.” [1]

On 20 February, Claire Tolan will talk about the evolution of her sound work over the past two years. Since 2014, Tolan has worked extensively with ASMR, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response [2], on the radio and in recording, installation, writing, and performance.

Tolan’s recent work moves away from ASMR-as-a-phenomenon, focusing instead on rituals of soothing via interactive performances and recordings. How is the individual soothed in the face of anxiety triggered by complex systems like states, finance, and climate change? And, if we break this soothing into a taxonomy of coping mechanisms, spin the mechanisms around, and perform them collectively as rituals, can we change our understanding of, or even our response to, these systems?

At Blitz, Tolan is developing a new interactive performance in the form of a tabletop Role-Playing Game (RPG) similar to Dungeons and Dragons. She is creating a world in which soothing is an exploitable resource, mobilising and extending the creation myth of her new company, SHUSH SYSTEMS.

Read more about ASMR:

For an intro to ASMR you can begin with these videos:

Read a text Tolan wrote about ASMR:

Learn more about SHUSH SYSTEMS:

Recent interview with Tolan:


[1]Donna Haraway, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble:

[2] ASMR, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a tingling sensation that some people experience in response to soft sounds such as whispering, nail tapping, or hair brushing. Millions of videos attempting to trigger the sensation have been posted to YouTube in recent years. Though the videos are created primarily to provoke the tingling sensation, many people find the videos incredibly soothing, tuning in not to experience ASMR, but to ease insomnia, depression, and anxiety.