An exhibition and moving image installation co-created by members of The Neurocultures Collective (Georgia Bradburn, Benjamin Brown, Sam Chown Ahern, Robin Elliott-Knowles, Lucy Walker) and artist-filmmaker Steven Eastwood.
Stimming is ‘The practice of physical repetition as a way of taking sensory pleasure in recurrence, or of expressing and alleviating anxiety, and a common trait of autistic experience.’ STIM CINEMA takes the action of stimming as it’s starting point, connecting delight in repetition to the birth of cinema and to contemporary fascination with GIFS.
Like an endlessly nested stack of scenes, the exhibition invites the audience to take pleasure in discovering hidden movements in every part of the frame, reminding us all of the pleasure we share in seeing actions rock and loop, and revealing that such stimulation is not only common to autistic experience but in the DNA of the moving image.
The exhibition begins with a room of zoetropes - early moving image devices - which introduce the concept of the stim or repeated action. This commonality, between stimming, early cinema, and the avant-garde, is the founding principle for STIM CINEMA, the three-screen film installation which follows in the next space. This 16-minute loop explores the hidden and ever stimming details of the everyday world, via a protagonist taking part in an eye tracking test. Her curiosity introduces us to the wealth of information in the background of the sequences she is watching. Also revealed are two further characters, whose bodily movements are restricted in some spaces and released in others. The third room considers the co-creation process involved in making STIM CINEMA, a project that evolved over two years of conversation and collaboration, through visual thinking, the use of mind maps, and the ambition to create new moving image forms. Props, ephemera, original artworks, and GIF clips offer further insight into the work of the Collective.
The exhibition encourages the viewer to consider our shared neurodivergence, and to discover stimming as a joyous perceptual and bodily possibility, one which challenges the very notion of normativity and is in fact a desirable state.
The Neurocultures Collective was formed through participation in workshops as part of the Autism through Cinema research project, funded by Wellcome Trust. The Collective and artist-filmmaker Steven Eastwood have been developing the project with curator Gilly Fox for several years. This collaboration offered opportunity, inclusion and visibility for neurodivergent creatives, who are often obliged to explain their identity to audiences rather than play a central part in how representations are formed. The collaboration takes a progressive approach to moving image production, playing to the individual strengths and aspirations of the group. This method of production seeks to create new ways of working and to explore how currently inadequate models might evolve to empower neurodivergent artists, audiences, and communities.
STIM CINEMA is funded by the Film London FLAMIN scheme, Arts Council England, and Wellcome Trust, with support from Queen Mary University of London. It is curated by Gilly Fox and produced by Chloe White (Whalebone Films) and Steven Eastwood. Project advisors: Tim Corrigan & Kate Adams (Project Art Works), Maggi Hurt (BFI), Damian Milton (The Participatory Autism Research Collective) and Collective member Sam Chown Ahern.
Further information: https://www.autism-through-cinema.org.uk/neurocultures-collective