Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Oh how ironic....
Sometimes life spontaneously throws up odd correspondences or patterns which show us something about the way the world really works, in a way that is hard to ignore. Am I the first or am I only the last to notice the irony in this story? Years ago Professor Simon Baron-Cohen's Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge developed a DVD that is supposed to teach autistic children (presumed to be unable to read emotions) how to read facial expressions. That DVD is called The Transporters, and it features train engines and motor vehicle characters with expressive faces which get into dramas. The Transporters bears a strong resemblance to the popular children's TV series and illustrated books centred on the character Thomas the Tank Engine, stories which are believed to have particular appeal to young autistic boys. The characters in the Thomas the Tank books and TV series also have expressive faces and get into many interpersonal dramas. A week or so ago it was revealed on the Australian TV current affairs show 7.30 that the award-winning artist who created the artwork for the new generation of Thomas the Tank books and associated merchandise, Owen Bell, has been professionally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. A quick look at some examples of Mr Bell's artwork reveals that he has created many images of a range facial expressions which appear to be appropriate and interpretable. They aren't masterpieces of emotional depth or subtlety, but one wouldn't expect that from simplified children's book illustrations. So, how did Mr Bell with Asperger syndrome manage to produce such art if autistics can't even read facial expressions (let alone depict them in art in an anpropriate way)? Please explain, Professor!
"The Transporters"-Dr. Simon Baron Cohen: Beyond the Headlines. YouTube. Uploaded by autismhangout on Jan 8, 2009.
A Perth digital artist creates award winning images. 7.30 WA. April 13, 2012.
Owen Bell. Wikia.