On YouTube, there’s a subculture surrounding “girlfriend role play,” a variant of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos, in which visual and auditive stimuli produce a sensation of pleasure in those who are sensitive to them. Women film themselves in bed whispering softly to their webcams as if to a lover. “How was your day?” they ask. “I really appreciate all that you've done.” Things don’t go any further than a kiss to the camera or close-up sucking noises to the mic, but the videos are spellbinding and comforting.
In his graduation film at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, Guus Voorham edited these videos together to create a girlfriend to fulfill his every wish. The virtual girlfriends have cute names like Softlygaloshes, Stephanie 7whispers and Fairyblossom. “Nobody can replace you, you are the one unique you,” they tell him, and all the other people watching. What happens when intimacy becomes a product?