Watch a Master Japanese Printmaker at Work: Two Unintentionally Relaxing ASMR Videos

Today we can appre­ci­ate Japan­ese wood­block prints from siz­able online archives when­ev­er we like, and even down­load them for our­selves. Before the inter­net, how many chances would we have had even to encounter such works of art in the course of life? Very few of us, cer­tain­ly, would ever have beheld a Japan­ese print­mak­er at work, but here in the age of stream­ing video, we all can. In the Smith­son­ian video above, print­mak­er Kei­ji Shi­no­hara demon­strates a suite of tra­di­tion­al tech­niques (and more spe­cial­ized ones in a fol­low-up below) for cre­at­ing ukiyo‑e, the “pic­tures of the float­ing world” whose style orig­i­nal­ly devel­oped to cap­ture Japan­ese life and land­scapes of the 17th, 18th, and 19th cen­turies.

“So uh,” asks one com­menter below this video of Shi­no­hara at work, “any­one else come from unin­ten­tion­al ASMR?” That abbre­vi­a­tion, which stands for “autonomous sen­so­ry merid­i­an response,” labels a genre of Youtube video that explod­ed in pop­u­lar­i­ty in recent years.

Attempts have been made to define the under­ly­ing phe­nom­e­non sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly, but suf­fice it to say that ASMR involves a set of dis­tinc­tive­ly plea­sur­able sounds that hap­pens to coin­cide with those made by the tools of print­mak­ers and oth­er high­ly ana­log crafts­men. When ASMR enthu­si­asts dis­cov­ered Youtube art con­ser­va­tor Julian Baum­gart­ner, pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture, he cre­at­ed spe­cial son­i­cal­ly enhanced ver­sions of his videos just for them.

In the case of Shi­no­hara, the Best Unin­ten­tion­al ASMR chan­nel has done it for him. Its ver­sion of his videos great­ly empha­size the sounds of brush­es rubbed against paper, inks spread onto wood, and droplets of water falling into the rins­ing bowl. Of course, the orig­i­nal king of unin­ten­tion­al ASMR in art is uni­ver­sal­ly acknowl­edged to be Bob Ross, host of The Joy of Paint­ing, whose soft-spo­ken indus­tri­ous­ness seems now to inhab­it the per­son of David Bull, an Eng­lish-Cana­di­an ukiyo‑e print­mak­er liv­ing in Tokyo. In a sense, Bull is the West­ern coun­ter­part to the Osa­ka-born Shi­no­hara, who after a decade’s appren­tice­ship in Kyoto crossed the Pacif­ic Ocean in the oth­er direc­tion to make his home in the Unit­ed States. But how­ev­er tra­di­tion­al their art, they both belong, now to the float­ing world of the inter­net. You can lis­ten to non-ASMR ver­sions of the videos above here and here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Enter a Dig­i­tal Archive of 213,000+ Beau­ti­ful Japan­ese Wood­block Prints

Down­load 2,500 Beau­ti­ful Wood­block Prints and Draw­ings by Japan­ese Mas­ters (1600–1915)

Watch the Mak­ing of Japan­ese Wood­block Prints, from Start to Fin­ish, by a Long­time Tokyo Print­mak­er

Watch a Japan­ese Crafts­man Lov­ing­ly Bring a Tat­tered Old Book Back to Near Mint Con­di­tion

Watch an Art Con­ser­va­tor Bring Clas­sic Paint­ings Back to Life in Intrigu­ing­ly Nar­rat­ed Videos

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.