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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defragmenting

Scattered pieces. Little chips, broken off a brittle whole. Windblown. Each one a part of entity, identity and embodied Beingness. Sensory assault. Social weariness. Harsh terrains of normative colonial tyranny, treading through landscapes only the very bravest dare to traverse, yet with such naiveté.

Anxiety is a behemoth so nebulous, insidious and misconstrued. Woven tightly into thick existential tapestries, in myriad hues, flavours, scents, rhythms, patterns and textures.

The artist pursues relentlessly the life of the work. The autistic artist often risking much harm and desecration of Self, in order to bring forth symbolic gestures translated into the normative realms of understanding.

This autistic artist is multi-tasking, an activity autistic persons are often (most ironically) said to be profoundly impaired at doing. The anxiety levels are at head-pounding dynamic levels, a siren screeching, so high-pitched it is not heard by the human ear.

Lucy is not human. She hears. Her presence brings elemental equilibrium that no human intervention can mimic. The show must go on. Perhaps, even this, she understands in her parallel embodied knowingness?

The autistic artist grapples with mental exhaustion, physical pain and emotional weariness. Dealing with the complexities and follies of human interactivity – whether normative or autistic or neurodivergent – is exhausting. And hope-defying.

This weekend, we are working on the installations for Clement Space in the City (2017).

Lucy and her two little canine cousins are helping. Engaging with material and canine angels is clemency in itself… Defragmenting… Realigning… inside Clement Space.

The autistic artist presses ever onwards.

See you all at #thebiganxiety in Sydney!


Clement Space in the City (2017) is part of Neurodiverse-city, presented by The BIG Anxiety 2017 festival. At the Customs House, Sydney. Opens 20 September 2017.

The BIG Anxiety!!!

Multitasking at a frenetic pace and with zinging intensity is not one of my innate talents, but I am attacking it all with as much gung-ho as I can possibly muster.

Things are coming to a crescendo-accelerando now… exploring anxiety and its effects in real life drama as well as unfolded inside artistic expression…

Here’re the pages I’ve set up for two of my works in “Neurodiverse-city” at the Customs House, Sydney (opens 20 September 2017). Click on the links to get to the pages, with photos and video teasers. Enjoy! And see you in Sydney!

Clement Space in the City (2017)

An Olfactory Map of Sydney (2017)

Snoösphere 2017 in Singapore!

snoosphere

Snoösphere, 2017

Snoösphere 2017 is coming to Singapore!

Calling for autistic participants to join us in this exciting project. We need your feedback and advice!

As part of our Australia-Singapore alliance / inter-city collaboration, Team Snoösphere will be in Singapore to meet with Singaporean autistics for consultative sessions.

What: Expeditions to Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay, between 27-29 April.

Who: Autistic persons of all ages, speaking and/or non-speaking.

How: Please contact Dr. Dawn-joy Leong (dawnjoy@mac.com) to register interest, and for more information.

More about Snoösphere 2017 here.

 

Snoösphere 2017 – call out!

Upcoming project: Call Out!

snoosphere

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

The Big Anxiety Project

The-Big-Anxiety-Project.jpg

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!

Autism and me: a lifelong quest for Beingness and Clemency of Being

Autism and me: a lifelong quest for Beingness and clemency of Being.

Guest lecture, 27 August 2015, School of Education, UNSW, Australia.

Thank you, Dr. Iva Strnadova, for inviting me to deliver this guest lecture since 2012. It has become an annual event I look forward to greatly.

I promised Iva I’ll tell as many personal stories as possible within the time limit, and so I shall. But before I launch into the dramatics, I’d like to begin with some basic terminology.

When I first began on my research journey, I adopted the prevalent deficits-focused, pathological perspectives and terminologies, because that was all I knew at the time. However, I henceforth prefer to use the term “Autism Spectrum Condition” instead of “disorder,” because this better describes the neurological culture that autism actually is. I also no longer use functioning labels – “high” or “low” functioning – as they are not only insulting to autistic persons, but more importantly they are based on a system of measurements that does not properly respect the innate autistic functional modalities and paradigms.

Now for my fabulous stories. Continue reading