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The Breathtakingly Brobdingnagian British Blue Battleship Catastrophical Cataclysmic Catalystic Customisable Cosmic Cat(suit)

Tan, Kai Syng (2016) The Breathtakingly Brobdingnagian British Blue Battleship Catastrophical Cataclysmic Catalystic Customisable Cosmic Cat(suit). [Artefact]

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Abstract

This drawing has been in the Wellcome Images Library since 2016. https://wellcomecollection.org/works/kkng8gjs It remains the only image that appears beside that of a bottle of Ritalin (medication) when the word 'ADHD' is typed in the Library's search box. One of its aims was, and is, to serve as a provocation to widen our impoverished imagination of what Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is and could be, beyond only as an impairment, or only as something around boys, men, criminals and Big Pharma. A year on, that which were expressed in this image was to be further unpacked in the 2-year art-science project #MagicCarpet. Stephen Hawking has his chair, Don Quixote his ass, Lao Zi his bull, and Oscar his tin drum. Finally, a service animal to assist and enrich the lives of people with (and without) ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia. Better still, embody the beast — put it on (velcro-fitted, so no fiddly complications!). The BBBBBCCCCCC, is a 21st century wondrousness of wearable technology by way of Alice in Wonderland’s grinning Cheshire Cat, with nods to ancient Chinese Daoist medical diagrams that map the human body as an active agent of the cosmos, the Brobdingnagian stim-galore universe of Jonathan Swift’s Guilliver’s Travels, Giacomo Balla’s dynamic Futuristic figures in action, and your step-nephew’s £13.99 superhero costume from Asda’s. Get one now! Completed in May 2016, Kai's drawing is entitled 'Introducing the BBBBBCCCCCC aka the BREATHTAKINGLY BROBDINGNAGIAN BRITISH BLUE BATTLESHIP CATASTROPHICAL CATACLYSMIC CATALYSTIC CUSTOMISABLE COSMIC CAT(SUIT).' An earlier draft (without the running legs) was printed on canvas and exhibited on March 2 at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, at the first Museums for Health and Wellbeing Conference, which was organised by UCL’s National Alliance for Museums, Health & Wellbeing. One of the aims of this diagram/map is to create a playful and critical counter-narrative to existing literature and images. In the artist’s own bid to understand her recently diagnosed ‘conditions’ of ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia, she has found them to be disappointingly and overwhelmingly negative (particularly those from the medical sector), which tend to focus on how the difference, disabilities, ‘disorders’ or ‘abnormalities’ could be ‘cured’, ‘corrected’ and even ‘normalised’. The catsuit is also targeted at ‘neurotypical’ people, whose lives, as argued by the artist, could be enriched if they can also enjoy some of the traits of ADHD. The image can itself be interpreted as a snapshot of how a non-neurotypical mind may function (ferocious speed of being on the go; penchant for wordplay as a subjective way of making language understandable to self; ‘pattern-seeking’ and engaging in visual thinking). Keywords: ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, difference, learning disability, visual thinking, conceptual art, neurodiversity, disability, artist’s interpretation, motion, running, runner’s high, speed, action

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