Performance 1. Performance as autistic embodiment and research.

May 28, 2017 § 2 Comments

I’m tempted to leave this video right here without any words.

Who needs words when embodiment is so infinitely more expressive? It’s at such moments that I remind myself that words can only translate experience.

Yet the need to translate is there. Even for myself. I need to process what this powerful embodiment means. Writing helps. But I am minded that my words will exclude some friends and colleagues, while my video does not. I’m increasingly aware of mutism and people who can’t access literacy, as I move forward in my professional life. This matters greatly to me. The arts should not be for verbal and text based cultures alone.

As my Arts Council funded research progresses I’m going deeper into my practice roots, and I’m beyond fortunate to be invited to participate in some research group meetings in the US with my autistic colleagues at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley.

This is a joyful connection of parallel and intertwined experience, and a stepping in (via the magic of FaceTime) to a space where all is shared and understood without the need for translations. We get it. We get each other. This is nothing like inhabiting neurotypical spaces.

I even love autistic group FaceTime in this space, unlike my experience of group Skype calls with neurotypical colleagues which felt more like communicating through a tunnel. There is much food for thought in how to approach such professional meetings with my team in future.

One point of comparison is the way in which neurotypical culture seems to demand a more choreographed approach to connection, which is stressful because you have to follow, keep track and co-ordinate responses. This is all about timings.

Imagine something more free flow in the autistic equivalent – where a gentle game of tag allows each participant to follow their own train of thought aloud, to find out where we intersect. This in turn allows a vantage point on the whole (a totality of shared experience)  from which our combined pattern recognition skills can happily forage and fruitfully explode. Such beneficial explosions are what make our programmes and our projects function – they fire our understanding and create new pathways for us.

Nothing could be more exciting.

This has prompted me  to dig deep into my back catalogue of video work, and hook up some of my earlier neurological explorations. These early experiments are now emerging as the valuable research material I need to help me conceptualise and express my autistic professional methodologies.

I did not know then that I was laying down the foundations for future professional development. The autistic psyche is wise – but can only be allowed to be so when given free range. This is my learning. This is what I most want to share.

 

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