The Oddly Satisfying, Strangely Soothing World of Sand Slicing Videos

I spoke to the person behind a new Instagram account that has me obsessed.

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May 30 2017, 3:00pm

I recently discovered my new favorite Instagram page. It's called Sandtagious and it's literally just videos of sand being slowly, meticulously cut and scooped. But for some reason, it is intensely satisfying and oddly soothing:

The videos are made using kinetic sand, a special craft sand that contains a type of silicone oil, allowing it to be more dense and moldable, like wet sand. I stumbled on the Instagram channel this past Friday (I may or may not have been under the influence of certain substances) and was immediately hooked.

The creator has only been making videos for Instagram and YouTube since February, but already has hundreds of thousands of views, likes, and comments from other sand fans. I reached out to the Instagram's owner to find out more about why he makes these videos and why he thinks they're so appealing. He asked to stay anonymous, but told me he's a designer working in the US.

"I found these types of sand videos appealing to the point where i became interested in creating my own videos," Sandtagious told me via email. "I wanted to add my own design and creativity to the videos and it just developed from there. Also, the fact that I consider myself a perfectionist, the shapes I create lend to this type of exact visual."

Part of the appeal here is the perfection and precision. If he were to start slicing a wedge of sand and mess up, it would be really unsettling to watch, at least for me. So does he ever make a mistake?

"Yes, many times," the designer wrote. "Although the mixed sands are usually a one-shot deal so those are more nerve racking."

The videos are tagged to attract people with Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. ASMR is a trait some people have where certain sounds, like soft whispering, trigger a pleasurable tingling physical response in their brain, and there's an entire online community with hundreds of videos designed to elicit an ASMR response. I've never really gotten the ASMR trend, but for some reason, these sand videos seem to have a more universal appeal.

Sandtagious told me that he thinks it's because of the mix of shape, color, and sound. And it's not the only kinetic sand channel in town: turns out there's a whole world of kinetic sand videos. But many of them aren't as precise as Sandtagious, and therefore not as satisfying. Plus, he's trying to innovate within the world of weird sand slicing videos.

"I like seeing how different shapes can look visually appealing as they come apart whether cutting, scooping and smashing," he wrote. "The melon baller scooping is relatively new to the sand world."

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