Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Jon Adams
Neuroscience arts residency project funded by the Wellcome Trust and commissioned by The Arts Catalyst.
Setting out on a personal, artistic and scientific journey, processing conversations, observations and experiments through my Asperger's filters. Working with staff at The Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge including Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director.
The process and final work will be 'naturally systemised', presented in audio and visual metaphor
# 1 [10 June 2012]
Revaluing Autistic thinking:
Aspergers Science art residency at the Autism Research Centre. This is the initial post for the start of this project which has directly led on from Look About - a naturally systemisation of my life from November 2010 till early 2013 all to be presented in Geological Metaphor. I write all I do - and the 2012 projects I engage with - this will lead to a map of the Cultural Olympiad in the South East.
I was asked to present at Cheltenham Science Festival last year as part of 'Exploring the Autistic Mind' presentation by The Arts Catalyst. During the presentation by Simon Baron Cohen I realised I systemised as a natural process. This affinity to find out more and desire to push my practice further led to an application to Wellcome Trust to create a sonic and visual representation of conversations and investigation into the neuroscience behind aspergers.
This will be blogged on here - as part of the process.
# 2 [25 October 2012]
Relentless, with purpose
I move away from you
through, mist and green cold field
a darkness commenced with others
lost to play in the laps of the gods
‘Why take life that has potential’
Autism Research Centre 8th October: Wake early with usual start, dreams vivid and frankly disturbing - attempt to snooze but fail repeatedly – dress eat say goodbyes and head for train before eight – quite apprehensive heading to Cambridge for the first time to stay and work – project has been delayed due to my PTSD revealing itself in the spring and interfering with the way I work – must make a start but don’t want to waste a moment of our allotted budget and opportunity – also for once part is ‘looking inwards’ not only exploring what ‘neuroscientists’ do but what makes me the ‘way I am’ as an accidental element – I don’t like mirrors. Train smooth – underground not bare but usable – daylight train to Cambridge a reminder of previous 2 exploratory trips both mapped for 2012 project – compulsively I document journey in Geoformat. I take taxi to Autism Research Centre for no other reason than access – knee bad. Welcomed warmly we chat waiting for the director – Simon Baron Cohen with whom I have my first meeting – we chat fruitfully looking at work done, access, questions and starting points – I ask a few questions to start the gathering of what may be many ‘puzzle pieces’ - then he introduces me at the following lunchtime meeting to staff – after I have people asking to chat – good start – conversations initiated I gather, obvious and necessary interwoven with ‘unseen treasures’ – all may be useful but I don’t have the pressure to discern or know ‘why’ yet – I absorb suddenly focusing on the word ‘discordant’ - sometimes distracted by the various and relevant musical terms often employed – track them – a trail – a beginning – the rules are look and listen – spoken word glows with an imposed ranking of importance, tasted, touched and recorded as hurried lines on paper to retranslate with others - overwhelmed I leave early for Hotel – way finding notice patterns on pavement which I capture - first time there so hoping it’s OK – aspergers can be a tough task master for ‘safe spaces’ – in and settle reasonably quickly, after unpacking I try to unpick day while sitting in bath – end up working late – literalism - then fall asleep relatively easy.
# 3 [25 October 2012]
‘I was always jealous of his better Christmas presents’
Autism Research Centre October 9th: awake disastrously early – just when you need sleep uninvited ‘fight or flight’ steps in – retime alarms – down to breakfast at eight (it’s always 8 – creature of habits) – out – walk via the pavement spotted last night for a full photographic investigation dodging students on bikes and stares – walk to ARC clutching camera head down ‘looking’ – Intense day follows – multiple conversations – confirming – after lunch settle to manipulate ‘pathway 253’ – break by taking tour round orchard – photograph ‘apples’ in various states as believe it may be important but can’t yet see why – more conversation – homework suggestions – extra photo-re-manipulation – unknowingly I leave later than most. Walk – startled - 3 car shunt on my right, not serious but ‘awful ‘sonic experience’ – home to Hotel – graze – tired but compulsively compare info gathered – start to systemise information – may be too early but earthy compelled need – prescribe music to aid sleep helps to fight off demons
# 4 [25 October 2012]
‘Metrics of instruments – taxonomic obsessions’
Autism Research Centre. October 10th: Wake at 4 with start – PTSD bad during the night – snooze successfully till alarm – breakfast at 8 after packing – same items as yesterday – collect bags, pay and leave – More photography on way – arrive and launch into targeted conversations about possibility and systems – catch new people all through day – comfortable to wait and save absences for next visit – chat about Fibonacci obsessions with numbers over lunch – sit and catch up – plan sequences and process written down as graph – delight at sudden connections forming and confirmations – parts fit – something’s being written on the wall – blurred - working – snatch several more conversations before I have to leave – dark walk dragging cases – station – packed and uncomfortable train – remember next time to leave earlier or later – Hate train journeys in the dark – dislocations – tube not so good but sufferable with eyes closed – Waterloo station despairingly full of upward gazers – wait – called - tantalising train journey – review – plan disconformities - impatient – irrelevant drawings – exit and walk - home.
Fast train content rattlesway
darkness unobserved passing in double time
thought streams within heading home
# 5 [25 October 2012]
‘Ripple marks and essential bodies’
Portsmouth and Train to Cambridge. October 23th: Spend most of the day on admin, drawing sorting the previous weeks logging on Olympic project at British Geological Survey - light lunch - prepare to leave for Cambridge - pack bag with less ‘useful objects than normal - Not been home much in last two weeks so plenty of emails to catch up on – travel later in day hopefully to avoid the same hell on the underground as last Friday coming back from Nottingham – unfortunately don’t quite make it – take Northern line to Warren Street then change to Victoria line for Kings Cross - stand on right hand side - try to be insignificant - only a few stops open that side so won’t be in way – people don’t have concept of personal space let alone know the pain to someone with aspergers when this is breached repetitively – train packed most of the way – human ebb and flow – record station times on phone as no room for note book – out - breathe - Manage to get 3 people walking in to pull case before leaving clutches of the underground – the last guy look through me so ‘hard (was his fault) I almost feel physically abused reminiscent of the lyrics ‘if looks could kill they probably will’ – unsettled I make the train before schedule but misreading restrictions in the pocket timetable panic and leave train - wait and catch one I am meant too - delayed due to weather near Royston so arrive at Hotel later than planned – loose 2 personal achievement points – settle in but disturbed by obvious vibration/ humming noise – under any other circumstance this would be recorded, cut & manipulated as treasure then used for ‘sound work’ but this is annoying my synaesthesia deeply – intensity and modulation varies in different parts of room but worse where headboard is (of course) – sonic mystery – examine space outside room in corridor CSI style but location remains a mystery – end up sleeping in bed reversed away from wall with headphones on hence sleep fitful – endure the usual PTSD bad dreams so wake before light with obvious attention deficit
# 6 [25 October 2012]
‘Reverse preconceptions – high expectations’
Autism Research Centre. October 24th: Wake early disturbed by nights dreaming. Pack bag then wash – trying to ignore the hum. Down to breakfast sit on own and observe the few others down at that time – recognised by waitress – feeling ashamed I wasted half portion of marmalade – collect bags one with computer and the transparent case with artwork. Leave to find a foggy drizzle packed with students heading all directions – follow now familiar (takes only one trip to become available as a neuro ‘DVD rerun’) route to ARC using ‘stops’ on may as mnemonic to learn areas of the brain careful of leaves coating the pavement – pretty clumsy without any distraction or slipping opportunity – Ring door bell noticing patterns imposed on the Victorian tiles remaining – In welcomed again and sorted out with badge 12. No plans to distract day as a starting point give out ‘cards’ of image taken and manipulated last visit and showing ‘book work’ as previously promised. Spend morning chatting and catching up with various people about ‘neuro-imaging’, music and sound then set about an email listing links and backing up work done on new memory stick – distracted by systemising almost miss the communal lunch time. Accidentally capture spider while eating – the staff is quite international so the conversations are varied and rich – spend the afternoon chatting and gathering with people I haven’t caught up with yet – interesting but tiring as constantly looking for connections and patterns which correlate whist practicing badly to ‘read’ clues to expression – new information instantly floods senses with ideas – woken up shaken off PTSD cloak temporarily – accidental comments and meeting can be rich in material - arrange to meet with others I have missed later in week – I am questioned in return about how my aspergers influences or affects my work – as part of the project I am deliberately open to questioning – all or nothing – you would have thought neuroscientists would find conversing with a person with aspergers commonplace – it’s not – they only tend to collide with those on a ‘study’ or unwell – repeatedly told how interesting and opportune my openness is for them – people start to disperse - work for a while – head out into the gloom of nose to tail traffic and walk via ‘tea collection’ to the Hotel - hum – its they’re enquire at desk reluctantly source is found - the fire door magnetic catch – ironic - MRI information large part of the day. Encouraged by and elated by the sudden absence of ‘hum’ a bath to think – try to ‘relax but distracted by patterns of nozzle outlets in shower head displayed - multiples of 4 and 8 – sit and write blog from day – no discernible effect – write slowly - man whistles quite flat – mentally guard fire door – quite so far – regretting no Mahler on MP3 player – green robot – blue Godzilla – sleep late
# 7 [26 October 2012]
‘Neuron tuning and orientations’
Autism Research Centre. October 25th: vivid dreams – wake late - up late – only person at breakfast much to staff disappointment but heartened by rush as I leave – Bath – redress – leave late – no students on streets – arrive at ARC and make tea – into lab – meet new PhD student – tuning filters - wham - ideas start to spring into an ‘empty’ ready head – focus in on details of information with translation into design for experiments – fill - attempt to blog unsuccessfully – TIME – Lady bird spotted - meet with new contact to chat ‘adult aspergers’ – call - The Arts Catalyst Jo arrives from London – carry on conversation with 3 way interest – no notes as concentrate – systemising quotients – process conversation - additional introductions – lunch conversations are ‘outward facing’ – apple - soup of 2 points - art meets science to breed – Russia - location neutral for new audiences – wait – expectancy – nervous – we meet with Simon – ‘Konfirm’ titles confirmed – joys are real not printed on paper – geological museum – maps - disconfirming – dis-conforming – unicorn discovery - repeating correspondences – explain modular synthesisers CV ADSR VCA LFO - time flies – forget to ask – over too quick – listen intent few words make it to paper – seeds planted – implications of brokenness best avoided – walk in conversation against thick traffic – return working to blog successfully – converse hidden sonic annoyances – high frequencies – Neanderthal brain sizes – people then dispersing as night grows in intensity outside – tea – ‘notes geologique’ unearthed – fossils discussed – look up to find we are almost alone – walk back to hotel in the dark each step glowing – child waves from stationary car – shop for tea to the single last point – in settle unlatch magnetic catch – bath twice as enjoying train of thought plot artwork ahead of time – restraint from fitting puzzle pieces – seen RED28 at 8:28 - IQ on BBC4 – resting – drawing to 8 intelligences and Corinth mystery – frothy coffee – resting but cant switch off – Pandas – repetitive n – light out – music as people social dancing overhead.
# 8 [27 October 2012]
You only need one unicorn to prove their existence
Autism Research Centre and Train to Portsmouth. October 26th : wake struggling fast in the gloom –fear stimulates deep inside – headphone on snooze till hungry – bath legs bent – down at the same time to empty dining room as yesterday – relish in the sameness so much I break the rules for unconventional breakfast - bacon toast scrambled eggs (new) and hash browns (new) coffee (new)- pack and pay then walk into ARC the usual route – sharper colder - note to self other side pavement smoother for pull case for return to station later – nose to tail exhaust – spot patterns on pavement to photograph later - In - remember hellos and make tea. Time to sit and learn part one - white and grey – highways – sex differences – brain train – volume – density – pruning – tea before immersion – fractal coastlines – bass revelations visual thinking sores – images - guitars – translocations – enigmas – MRI FMRI – to engaged to write notes properly - diffusion – concentration, noise and artefacts – patterns – connectivity sync – ethics – abide - boundaries. Can feel the need to correlate all the ideas and connections is now too much to be able to sit on my hands any longer – urge to systemise the patterns running in 3D – break memory full - Late lunch, pecan pie is no problem, the turkey another matter – Wash bowl after tomato soup and settle down with computer before part 2 – DTI – axial – regions of interest – music cognition – homework – amygdala – fear processing PTSD answers – crows - neurotransmitters – referrals for head hunting – details – results – interesting. Am i ready to Konfirm? Sad as its time to go the time here flies to quickly – goodbyes as warm as welcome – will good luck twice – out into cold. Walk to station remembering to gather photographs and walk the other side of the road – bell rings to pass – finally at very packed station – ticket to return - miss train by 30 seconds – wait on platform with tea peanut brittle and banana and wait fior train to be called – train called 5 mins before leaving to board as far away from where am standing as possible – rain and pain – fast train. Enter underground apprehensively and head to Victoria line – Warren st change over – train far to full to contemplate boarding and remaining happy - wait for the next one minute later – make Waterloo in time to step straight on – walk platform 15 to its end find usual seat and sit – Train fills – dice throws and I loose as woman steps on me several times to sit opposite – squash and curl – train empty’s Guildford and can stretch - far to tired to write – think through the darkness – rework day again and again – consolidate this visit and start to see correlation between the 2 visits. Gathering materials over, now for global project systemising and highlighting its direction – distracted by potent aftershaves as youth stalks the train hunting mass seating - no signal – counting 2 stops – 1 stop – Home after short walk under a Grimshaw sky. Unpacking is saved for another day
# 9 [29 October 2012]
Enigmas in the salty sea
Portsmouth. October 27th : As usual awake at 4 even though home now and exhausted - Spend day resting as need some quiet to digest the last few days and some time away from social interaction – aspergers requisite – start putting pieces together in my head – work on blog and post yesterdays post – sill research on web in the evening as have some practical problems to resolve – cant switch off once started so headphones and radio to try to fool myself into sleeping – does not work so back to problem solving in the dark.
Hand moves up and down oscillating in the slipstream through the open car window:
Portsmouth. October 28th: Getting to know 4am very well except now it’s called 5am – solved one during a waking moment which has shed light on the route to solve the others – sit all evening on the web researching after another day where the only ‘social’ engagement was with the newsagent and onTwitter – bliss –set out to find the oscilloscopes and AWFG’s that crowd on top of new hotlist – compare – systemise details - decided – brief look at neurons – bath with more thinking – Homeland distractions – but radio needed to initiate sleep.
# 10 [31 October 2012]
Brain Patterns - Brain chat
Portsmouth October 30th: Wake as usual, recover and head to University - Look About admin REF work plus Konfirm REF submission. Bump into Marius at lunchtime and have good but short conversation about project - ironic as have just bought his book 'Brains - the mind as matter' published by Wellcome. Interviewed and supply links for Konfirm web press in the afternoon. Home earlier than usual - think in bath - read book - spend evening doing research on web - draw - create overlays in Corel for note detection from wave - scales variation - may go for an 8 note scale - end up pattern finding till late into night.
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Aspergers and dyslexic artist/scientist and interventionist specialist Arts Sciences and Visual Arts - Analogue and digital sound maker modular synthesizer systemizer addict
Conceptual geologist: B.Sc hons, FRSA, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, ACE:SE Regional Council member and Lead geologist to 'Look About' Cultural Olympiad mapping project.
Research Fellow at University of Portsmouth
Practice issues: Abuse, Access, Diary, Intimacy, Illiteracy, Spoken/written word, science representation, the hidden, personal journey, personal space, touch, inclusion, geological metaphor. Visual and audio illustration: sound, Print 3D, Photography, Film, Word performance and interview.