A research project with Marvin Unger exploring socially distanced communication and ASMR in the public space of RAUM, in Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht.


A lack of touch can increase the feeling of loneliness.

Our brains produce less Oxytocin, also called the cuddle hormone. Oxytocin has increases empathy and is also released through the phenomenon of ASMR. The project 'Soft Talk' or 'Do microchips whisper about electric trees?' investigates if ASMR can also manifest in public space.

The material copper has antibacterial properties and offers a lower survival rate of COVID-19 compared to other materials. Copper is also commonly used in audio and information technology.


The user listens and becomes aware of oneself and the environment


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



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

Soft Talks:

In two discussion sessions with scientists, artists and curators, among others, we explored 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.

Photo Credit, Drone Shot: Igor Roelofsen


Production Copper Cones: Drückerei Hommel



RAUM Utrecht

Projectleader: Larissa Koers

Curator: Rinke Vreeke

Marketing, Communication: Iris Loos

Website: Leonie Dijkstra

Production Programming: Joost Ruijter

Soft Talks Moderator: Tiiu Meiner

Panelists: Julie Rose Bower, Marijn Bril, Sigrid Merx,

Dr. Giulia Poerio, James Taylor-Foster



Facilities Management: Quentin Davelaar

Preconception: Jacob Herrie

Director: Donica Buisman

Design research direction: Jop Japenga, Olga van Lingen

Art direction: Marije Hobo, Anouk Diemel, Dennis Vlietinck

Production: Dennis Mulder, Jesper Groen, Bram Staal

©  2021 Jasper Zehetgruber, all rights reserved