A funny thing happened on the way to this poster …. Several of the people I showed it to said it made their head hurt!
For me, this is an expression of the way an autistic person experiences information. Various topics of varying importance all compete to hold space in the autistic person’s consciousness — sometimes to the point of overload, but more often as available morsels of fruit which the autistic person can sample when stirring together a bowl of ideas.
There is the element of separation — feeling excluded by society as a whole and misunderstood due to communication style.
And there is a unified message, for while one can be carrying a rich tapestry of ideas inside the head at any given moment, what is given out to others is received via a single stream. An autistic person is a 64 bit pipe and a terabyte brain surrounded by monaural AM receivers.
Is it a surprise that some of our most expressive artists, musicians, writers and scientists are thought to have been autistic? Da Vinci, Beethoven, Van Gogh, Gould, Mozart, Satie, Conan Doyle, Mozart (I used Mozart twice for emphasis) … all created works or interpretations of works that one can only appreciate by experiencing them. They can’t really explain what they do, but they can show you what they do.
An art student will typically take a still life and select one or two pieces to pull into the foreground for expressive detail. In autism, it is possible to give everything in the field of view equal importance — the resulting painting having too much detail to be comfortable for the average eye.
Think of the Sistine Chapel, or works by Albrecht Durer, Peter Paul Rubens, or Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Now that’s detail.
Bring on more detail!
April is Autism Awareness month.
Consider doing a little reading about artists and autism this month! Here are a few jumping off points:
Drawing Autism, by Jill Mullin
Jonathan Lerman, Drawings of a Boy with Autism
http://artismtoday.com/ Artism – the Art of Autism
Tess McMillan, Bellevue College Gallery Space