The Birch Island


Julia Brenan


The Birch Island Ambient Room is a sample of a multi-sensory video allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in the resettled community within the medium of an ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) Ambient Room. This medium harnesses visual cues and subtle sounds to transport and inform the audience while providing the ambiance typically associated with the medium. I have used modified historic photographs of the resettled community of Birch Island, Labrador, Canada, to recreate the visual and ambient soundscape of the community before resettlement.

During pandemic lockdowns, I have taken refuge in the ASMR Ambient Rooms of YouTube. For those of you unfamiliar with these rooms, they are a calming image and sound that can transport the viewer to a wide range of fictional spaces like a café on a rainy day, a cozy porch  watching leaves fall, or Riverdale complete with rushing streams and waterfalls.

Ambient Rooms specifically target the sensations of visual cues and sound. Applying this medium to historic photographs experiments with learning and understanding in different ways. Ambient Rooms curate the audience’s sensations of a place, allowing the creator to help guide the viewer to a more specific understanding of the space represented. 


Judges’ Comments

The judges were drawn by this project’s novel approach to the archaeology of space and place.

“I am so glad that someone went down the ASMR route of sensation theme – and connecting this theme and approach to archaeology and heritage and resettlement in Canada is a powerful idea. The technical and artistic merit is very creative and innovative – I’m not sure I have seen ASMR archaeology” “It is a very clever way of using historic photographs, giving them a small amount of animation and therefore changing and lifting them into something else. I think this is a subtle, yet very innovative and original entry. The thing I liked about Julia’s interpretation of the theme, is that it allows you (forces you?) to fill in the gaps – and that again is subtle and clever. She uses the right amount of sound and vision to nudge you into imagining the smells and touch of the various environments. If you were experiencing each ASMR section for an hour or so, your mind would have the space to wander and to imagine and to relax into it.”

“I watch the ambient room a few times, and each time I felt ‘ghost’ sensations of touch; that tingle in your spine or the feeling of an absent breeze. It speaks to the quality of soundscape that a short YouTube video can evoke these feelings!”

© 2022. CC BY the authors of their respective works. All Rights Reserved.