I love the quietude of what people are calling “self-isolation” and “distancing”. I am one of those autists who delight in inhabiting my own little bubble of presence. Yet, I am unable to quell the force majeure of interconnectivity, and what my mind intuits and decodes is quietly shattering the gentleness of solitude.
My Autistic Brain, yes, blame that brain. All those little details, patterns, rhythmic sequences unfolding, unpacking and evolving. The minuscule bits and bobs that reach out with mournful tendrils, grasp, touch and intertwine across a massive expansive network of misery, fear, anxiety and pain. The final few seconds of gasping, life slipping away, the excruciating knowing. The gnashing and grinding of teeth as vicious evil commodifies lives, directing the theatrical tragedy from their self-established positions in the stratosphere, while commonplace humanity groans. Every little ornament – dust particles of affliction, microscopic droplets of misery – screams in shattering silence. The turmoil is palpable, overwhelming and crushing – all the frantically gyrating, jostling dots are concatenated in dolorous bitter chains.
It isn’t only sensory inundation that leads to meltdown. It’s also cognitive deluge that threatens shutdown.
“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.
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.
My Ph.D dissertation, tentatively entitled, Scheherazade’s Sea – autistic parallel embodiment and elemental empathy, is part of a protracted journey in search for Being: a detailed study of Self and Other, and examination of multidimensional interstices of dynamic, interactive reciprocities.
This research and practice rests upon three fundamental concepts:
Endeavour of Empathy, and
Space of Mind, from which emanates Elemental Empathy.
The theoretical foundation for this work is constructed from documented studies in neuroscience, anthropology, the arts and humanities, and personal anecdotal evidence from autistic individuals. At the same time, my artistic practice acts as concretising agency by creating experimental ‘sharable’ spaces that serve not merely to display autism but to invite dynamic, personified communion; connecting individuals across neuro-functional divides. Continue reading →
This is a musing about confronting, and the confrontation of invisible disability.
What happens when the invisible is confronted in a stark and abrupt instant?
A recent encounter inside the lift on my way up to my art studio brought me once more, eyeball to uncomfortable eyeball, with the conundrum of ‘framing’ an invisible neurological difference. In my case, it is autism – and this is an issue that autistics living in the normative realms are constantly faced with, because we exist and function in the midst of, and juxtaposed with, the ‘normalcy’ of neurotypical constructs and systems. Continue reading →
Paper presented at the International Conference for Research Creativity: Praxis, Baptist University of Hong Kong, 21-23 November 2012.
How should the artist approach practice and research without becoming so overly abstract that the grounded, proprioceptive concreteness of art becomes mired inside oppressive, draconian intellectualism? The reciprocal processes of researching artistic practice and practicing artistic research require actively synergetic, symbiotic sensory and cognitive engagement, the interaction and inter-reaction of the bodily senses with theoretical, philosophical insight and invention.
Sensorial contemplation, that is, “thinking through the body,” is an inherent trait of Autism Spectrum Condition. How do autistic sensory, proprioceptive and cognitive idiosyncrasies affect creative motivation and process? May the model of autism inspire a fresh perspective for research and praxis? As an artist with Autism Spectrum Condition, the aims of my paper are to provide an ‘insider’ view of how sensory and cognitive idiosyncrasy shape my creativity, and using the autistic body-mind model, suggest an alternative milieu for creating visionary collaborative research, and mutually empathic platforms. Continue reading →