Autism and the Arts

An excellent article by Katie Sutherland in The Conversation about Autism and the Arts. It is both a relief and a joy when non-autistic writers or producers etc write / make features that are respectful, inclusive and accurate when portraying or talking about Autism. Thank you, Katie Sutherland!

Featuring Snoosphere by Lull Studios, my two works, Clement Space and An Olfactory Map, and Thom & Anglemouse’s Rush Hour at Cloud Heaven. Please click on the link:

“Autism and the arts: making a space for different minds.”

Excerpt:

“Rancid perfume. Stinky babies. Sweaty clothes. Garlic hair. Human bodies putrefying and I think my own is beginning to smell,” declares artist and researcher Dawn-joy Leong in her installation, An Olfactory Map of Sydney, at Customs House in Circular Quay.

At times confronting, at times funny, Leong’s graphic description of the assault of odours while travelling by bus forms a series of video monologues about her sensitivities to smells, sounds, light, colour, tastes and movement.

Leong is autistic and regularly feels overwhelmed due to hyper-sensory perception. This can trigger extreme reactions such as nausea, headache, vertigo and sometimes excruciating pain. Through Leong’s work, the viewer gets a real sense of how exhausting having such a heightened awareness must be, particularly in a world designed for “neurotypicals” – people who are typically wired or non-autistic.

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Reflections on the neurodiverse city

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My article for Artlink Magazine, “Reflections on the neurodiverse city,” is now free to access online. Click on the title for the full article.

Excerpt:

“Many autistics experience “body‑in‑space” challenges. The opening poem describes my own proprioceptive quirk: I can dance, but the simple task of walking along the pavement without tripping requires a conscious rhythmic pattern in my mind, usually in the form of a song or a tune. Other idiosyncrasies inherent to autism include extreme sensitivity to the visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile senses. Lights, colours, sounds, vibrations, smells, tastes and textures may separately or in complex confluence trigger extreme reactions like nausea, headache, vertigo and even excruciating pain. The mental propensity towards precision – that is, noticing things in greater detail, also heightens sensory reception and reaction. A common unifying theme in this richly woven, polyrhythmic and highly chromatic existence is that of anxiety. Coping with life in an environment not designed for and conflicting with native autistic modalities, the autistic person is constantly in a state of stress.”

Snoösphere 2017 – call out!

Upcoming project: Call Out!

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Snoösphere, 2017

Snoösphere 2017 – a multisensory experience with a focus on autism, featuring autistic creative partnership.

Lull Studios and UNSW would like to invite autistic persons of all ages to join us as creative advisors in designing a gallery-based art installation.

Snoösphere is a space made up of interactive sound, vision, aroma, and touch-controlled elements, in which people can roam and explore. It is an immersive space for promoting discovery, empathy and understanding of the spectrum of neurodiversity.

Named for the noösphere, which is the phase in the Earth’s evolution after the biosphere – a future planetary sphere of mind – the Snoösphere promotes embodied consciousness of the sensory and energetic properties and performance of physical space.

We see this as the especial province of autistic artists. Instead of being passive end-users, autistic participants are an influential part of developing Snoösphere, putting into practice the ethos “Nothing About Us Without Us.”

Dr. Dawn-joy Leong is the autism consultant for Snoösphere, personally facilitating the interesting and fun autism-friendly sessions.

Participants will experience creative engagement and learn about the process of building a multisensory interactive environment aimed at supporting the sensory needs of autistics. Contributions from our autistic advisors will be duly acknowledged in the final production.

Introductory consultation sessions and workshops for small groups and individuals (completely free) will be held 17-20 November 2016, at UNSW Art & Design, Paddington.

Please feel free to contact Dawn-joy for more detailed information, or to register your interest in becoming part of our project. Dawn will reply to emails promptly and no question is too trivial.

Email: dawnjoy@mac.com

Phone: 0477424585

Acknowledgements

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Sonorous Repose – Lucy Like-a-Charm 2015 by Dawn-joy Leong     (please do not reuse without seeking prior permission)

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We have made it! The PhD has passed muster and now it’s time for acknowledgements.

 —-

Scheherazade’s Sea – autism, parallel embodiment and elemental empathy.

 Dawn-joy Sau Mun Leong, UNSW Art & Design, April 2016

Dedication:

To my father, Dr. Leong Vie-Ying (1930-2007).

Acknowledgements:

This work would not have been possible without the following:

Deepest gratitude to my supervisors,

Professor Jill Bennett and Dr. Petra Gemeinboeck,

for your patience, guidance, advice, support, and for believing.

Thank you, Dr. Sally Clark, for your advice, encouragement and support.

My Lucy Like-a-Charm

My family:

Thank you, mother, Molly Chye Gek Ong, for your care and fortification.

My beloved baby-sister and faithful champion, Althea Leong,

thank you for always being here, there, and everywhere for me.

Dear brother-in-law, Robin Sing,

thank you for your patience, sustenance and unquestioning support.

My canine nephews, Bizcuit and Tiny Sing

Thank you, my friends who have played important roles in my journey:

Yee Sang, Ho

Rick Feedtime

Minh Vuong

Kateryna Fury

Colin G. Marshall and Misty Marshall

Shan Patterson and Sally Patterson

C.J. Wan Ling, Wee

Margie Anne Edmonds

Brad Beadel

Gavin Koh

Boon Ling, Yee

Shane Fenton

Andrea Kingan

Rosemary Wilkinson

and

Everyone who has walked a part of our journey alongside us, however briefly, every single moment has mattered.

The Big Anxiety Project

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The Big Anxiety Project

The BIG Anxiety Project is an innovative citizen science venture developing creative approaches to health research and data visualization.”

Lucy and I are honoured to be a small part of this amazing project, which kicks-off on 5 June 2016, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 3-6pm, level 6, with this interactive talk-cum-discussion session.

Friends in Sydney, if you will brave the weekend’s wet and wild weather, please do join us at this interactive event.

If you are not in Sydney or unable to attend the above event, please take part in the Big Anxiety Project’s survey on anxiety at the Black Dog Institute: click here!

Reciprocating Self and Other – lessons from autism.

Reciprocating Self and Other – lessons from autism by Dawn-joy Leong

Conference paper presented at the Inter-Disciplinary.Net conference,

Strangers, Aliens and Foreigners

Thursday 5th September – Saturday 7th September 2013

Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom.

(This paper was first published in the ebook, “Experiencing Otherness: Multidisciplinary Perspectives”.)

Abstract.

Culture is the agglomeration of values, customs, and communication systems identifying groups of people, where demarcations can be geographic, economic, intellectual, or even neurological predisposition. In this paper, I shall discuss Autism Spectrum Condition as a mental culture, and investigate Self-Other identities from the perspective of a researcher-artist with Asperger’s Syndrome. Autism is widely portrayed by the general media as stereotypes exhibiting bizarre behaviour. Why is autism considered an aberrant existence? In reality, autistic individuals grapple daily with the complexities of Self and Other. Assimilation and communication is very much based on the autistic individual’s ability to grasp and ‘perform’ alien systems and realities. How much should we conform to the cultural tenets of Other at the expense of Self for the purpose of convivial integration, and how much to attend to Self for the sake of intrinsic preservation and need?

In the push for a more enlightened co-existence, some questions require address. When is co-existence considered cultural migration and when imposition? We are often strangers even in our own ‘homes,’ perennial actors and performers of Other, and thereby losing understanding and appreciation of Self. Should it be a compliment or insult when someone declares, “But you can’t be autistic, you don’t look or behave autistic?”

Perhaps a transdisciplinary approach to this conundrum is in order—with science as syllogism and artistic research and praxis as agency— to facilitate understanding and reciprocity between Self and Other. Continue reading