Art in a Hidden World: Creative Process and Invisible Anomaly

By Dawn-joy Leong.

Published by The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

What are the semiotics and meanings of art to a small, hidden sector of society with sensory and cognitive anomalies? How do these idiosyncrasies shape creative process? Much attention is now centred on Autism Spectrum Condition. Researchers in the fields of neurology and psychology are presenting more and more discoveries, as a growing community of autism self-advocates and associates are finding increasingly louder voices in the media and online. Inevitably, claims, counterclaims, heated discussions and bitter disputes abound. In the area of artistic creativity, there has been great interest in the particular talents attributed to individuals with autism. Books, articles and papers are being published on this subject, and an assortment of therapies aimed at developing these abilities are being proffered, while parents grasp at any and every suggestion of hope and reassurance about their children’s latent potentials. However, most of the postulations and assertions emerging about autism and creativity are from the non-autistic observer, and there are, to date, very few practising artist-researchers with autism stepping up on this platform rife with confusion and controversy to present their ideas from the personal vantage point. As an artist and scholar with autism, my interest in the area of multimodality in art is very much entrenched in my idiosyncratic sensory and cognitive profile. The aim of my presentation is to provoke more consideration towards the multisensory dimensions and potentials of artistic practice, as well as make a fledgling contribution of much-needed autobiographical empirical perspective on autism traits and the creative process. For the purpose of concrete illustration, I shall provide a brief overview of my most recent work, Scheherazade’s Sea, as an example of how sensory anomaly and neurodiversity shapes my creativity as an artist-researcher with Autism Spectrum Condition.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Condition, Creativity, Hypersensitivity, Sensory and Cognitive Idiosyncrasy Artistic Process, Multimodality, Multisensory

The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 7, pp.29-39. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 303.926KB).

Dawn-joy Leong

Ph.D candidate and Scholar, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Dawn-joy Leong is a music composer, vocalist, visual artist, poet and author, especially interested in interdisciplinary creativity and mixed media, multimodal and multisensory performative art. A prolific multi-artist, Dawn-joy has enjoyed an eclectic career, spanning almost two decades and residing in different countries, as an educationist with an interest in special education, published author of educational material, concert producer, event organizer, translator of art publications, singer-songwriter, and interdisciplinary performance artist. Her most recent work was “Scheherazade’s Sea–a mixed media, multi-sensory installation and performance,” which premiered in April 2010 at the University of Hong Kong. Dawn-joy is currently a Ph.D (Fine Arts) candidate at the University of New South Wales, College of Fine Arts, Australia. Her ongoing research focus is in the area of sensory and cognitive idiosyncrasies inherent in Autism Spectrum Condition, the semiotics of art in the realm of hypersensitivity and cognitive anomaly, how these influence the creative process, and how autobiographical, empirical research may contribute to learning and discovery in the study of Autism and Creativity.