Savant

Savant is an exploration of autism as a unique way of being. It explores the theme of ‘Life Beneath Glass’, isolated from other people, looking out at a magnified reality, which is sometimes too enlarged, disordered or incomprehensible, but at other times attracts total attention to complex details. This life is for most of us absolutely incomprehensible, however Savant tries to make it more understandable. It places the emphasis not on the exclusion from the world, but rather the phenomenal talents of autistic savants are explored.

Date: 2001-2002
Collaborators: David Coyle, Oonagh Casey, Damian Polly, Sinead Stafford, Deirdre Molloy
Awards: Europrix Award 2003
Deliverables: Standalone cd, exhibition

Rationale

This project attempted to understand and communicate the autistic experience through sound, video, 3D graphics and interaction. For most people, it can be extremely challenging to understand what it is like to have autism. This project aimed to place people within that experience.

Design Process

Savant was designed as part of my Master's Thesis in Multimedia. It was conceived and developed over 9 weeks. Extensive reading was necessary to establish an understanding of autism. We made contact with several extremely gifted individuals with autism for the project including Jessica Park, Temple Grandin and Tum-Tum Mendoza, all of whom were featured in the project. Our goal was to communicate the feeling of having autism through interaction. 'Savant' was designed using Macromedia Director, Flash, Premiere and ProTools. Its primary form was as an exhibition installation but it has also been used as a cd-rom.

Outcomes

Savant won the 2003 Europrix Multimedia award and was exhibited throughout the world.