STIM CINEMA

(in development)

A moving image artwork by Steven Eastwood and the Neurocultures Collective

Curated by Gill Fox

Funded by:

Film London FLAMIN award 2020

Wellcome Trust
 

Stim Cinema is a multiscreen artwork by Steven Eastwood in collaboration with the Neurocultures Collective, a group of seven autistic artists:  (Sam Ahern, Georgia Bradburn, Benjamin Brown, Robin Knowles, John-James Laidlow, Anupama Mann, Lucy Walker). Stimming is the practice of physical repetition as a way of expressing/alleviating anxiety, or taking sensory pleasure in recurrence, and a common trait of autistic experience. Many in the neurodiverse community find visual gratification in gifs as a kind of stimming form of cinema. Stim Cinema riffs on the activity of stimming by creating a series of loops on a large circular video wall, and as rotoscoped drawings on a set of zoetropes. Events are repeated, gestures roll and rock. The artwork explores a proto form of cinema, revealing that pleasure in repetition is common to autistic experience and the DNA of the moving image.

 

The artwork takes an innovative approach to moving image, pioneered through the collaborative work of the Neurocultures Collective, a group of neurodivergent artists, and Steven Eastwood. Stimming is the practice of physical repetition as a way of expressing/alleviating anxiety, or taking sensory pleasure in recurrence, and a common trait of autistic experience. As far back as the zoetrope in the 1830s, humans have displayed the desire to see an action re­peated. This commonality is the starting point for a series of video loops describing a world in which stimming is a desirable state. 


The artwork is built around looping sequences of around 1-2 minutes in length, involving circular camera movements within the frame, and reflecting the key interests of the seven members of the Collective: pressure felt by autistic people to restrain stimming behaviour and ‘mask’ in neurotypical settings; our creatureliness/the stimming of other species; recurring interest in circling patterns, such as the spiral. Further scenes depict common ‘neurotypical’ activities that can be viewed as ‘stimmy’: dance steps, spinning classes, applause and repetitive body gestures. Each discrete sequence features background activity and peripheral detail which becomes foregrounded in other sequences.