Julie Rose Bower is an artist and writer based in London. Her recent project with Laurence King, Plantfulness is all about how to change your life with plants.
We hear how Julie started creating ASMR videos and their relevance to bringing mindfulness to indoor gardening.
What inspired you to create this project?
I have a large plant collection and I take great pleasure in watering them and then pausing and listening to the sound as the water filters through the earth. I feel like I am hearing the plant drinking and it makes me feel very connected – a little intimate moment. Each plant sounds different and it continues for quite a long time after you pour the water. I haven’t seen any ASMR videos that use this trigger so I thought I would get my microphone out and try it.
Tell us about your career and how it’s lead you to creating ASMR videos?
I studied languages and literature and I have a theatre background. I have had a lot of experiences making site-specific and immersive theatre as well as performance for the stage. ASMR is triggered by the performance of everyday things so it acts as a kind of bridge between that heightened artistic life and regular, ordinary things. Now that my practice has moved into designing sound ASMR feels like a thread through my previous interests that I recently have started to consciously understand and explore.
What equipment do you need to make ASMR videos?
It depends on your budget! This was a little DIY project so I used an iPhone, a selfie stick, a condenser microphone and mic stand and just clapped my hands to synch the sound and image in post – I use Premiere for video editing and Logic for sound. When I am working with a team the setup is much more complex; I direct an ASMR at the Museum series for the V&A which you can see here and here. For those I have a professional crew of 4 and we use a Sony a7S II camera with Canon L series lenses and 5 microphones – a Sennheiser Ambeo ambisonic mic for multi-directional sound, a matching pair of Neumanns, and a pair of lapel mics at table level to capture friction.
What’s your favourite house plant you own and why?
It would have to be my jade plant. It is enormous, it grew from a cutting given to me by my aunt and I have taken innumerable cuttings to give to my friends. When I go to their houses (when we used to go to each others’ houses 😢) the jade plants are thriving and growing and greening the space. That makes me feel good, like we share space because we have our plants in common. A lot of my plants have been given to me – either handed down or grown from cuttings and it makes me feel like my loved ones are around me, protecting me and wishing me well.
How do you find calm in your normal day-to-day life?
At the moment I am in the early stages of composting with a wormery. I give my coffee grounds, tea bags, veggie peelings, fruit parings and so on to the worms and they are hard at work making black gold compost and liquid feed which I run off with a tap from a sump at the base. The first tray will be ready by spring and I am about to add the third layer. Visiting with my worms is a very calm moment. I feed them, check on the decomposition and I rescue them when they have dropped down into the sump tray and can’t get back up again. I pop them back in the top tray to do their work. I know for some people this would be gross but for me it is exciting and curiously calm – a child-like ASMR experience. If you want to chart their progress (and subsequently watch my plants grow) you can follow me on Instagram @julierosebower.