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STIM CINEMA: A new exhibition from Queen Mary University of London academic unveils a mesmerising fusion of Art and Stimming

STIM CINEMA, a groundbreaking exhibition that transcends traditional boundaries, bringing together the realms of art and stimming

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Co-created by Artist-Filmmaker Steven Eastwood, Professor of Film Practice at Queen Mary University of London, and The Neurocultures Collective, STIM CINEMA is a three-screen video installation that delves into the captivating world of gestures and objects that roll and rock.

The artwork takes inspiration from the activity of stimming, defined as 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.’ STIMCINEMA connects this practice to the birth of cinema and the contemporary fascination with GIFs, turning the joy of repetition into a mesmerizing visual experience.

Launched at the end of 2023, the STIMCINEMA exhibition is currently captivating audiences at Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery until April 2024. As an endlessly nested stack of scenes, the exhibition invites viewers to take pleasure in discovering hidden movements within every frame, highlighting the shared joy in observing actions rock and loop. It emphasises that such stimulation is not only common to autistic experience but is embedded in the very DNA of the moving image.

Steven Eastwood, commenting on the exhibition launch, said "STIM CINEMA goes beyond being just an exhibition; it's a celebration of our shared neurodiversity, an exploration of the joyous perceptual and bodily possibilities inherent in stimming."

The exhibition commences with a room featuring zoetropes, early moving image devices that introduce the concept of the stim or repeated action. This commonality between stimming, early cinema, and the avant-garde serves as the founding principle for STIM CINEMA. The three-screen film installation in the subsequent space invites visitors to immerse themselves in a narrative crafted through collaboration.

"In this mesmerizing fusion of art and sensory expression, we invite you to discover the hidden movements within the everyday, challenging the very notion of normativity," added Steven Eastwood. "STIM CINEMA is a narrative crafted through collaboration, offering opportunity, inclusion, and visibility for neurodivergent creatives. As you experience this exhibition, let's embrace the pleasure found in actions that rock and loop, acknowledging that such stimulation is not only common to autistic experience but intricately woven into the DNA of the moving image."

STIM CINEMA is currently on display at Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery until April 2024, and will subsequently tour to Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, and Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, inviting audiences nationwide to join in this celebration of neurodiversity through art and stimming.

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