November 29, 2006

Charles Gute :: On Savantism

Loads of amazing stuff on his site, but this struck me as strangely beautiful. (Even though the statement in context is quite snarky.)

On the gallery floor near the base of the wall, running the entire perimeter of the space, was a text rendered in hand-cut translucent adhesive vinyl. Although scarcely visible, the text, appropriated from psychology journal, offered a kind of tacit commentary on both the student works hung directly above throughout the gallery, and on the manner of fabrication of the work itself.

Full text:

It is not clear who qualifies as a savant, nor is it easy to tell the difference
between a mentally retarded savant and an autistic savant, though there are
some distinguishing features. IQ is one. Retarded savants generally have an IQ
of 50 to 70 while some autistic savants have IQs of 140 and above. Another
difference is that autistic savants often go on to successful careers as
artists and mathematics teachers, for example, while retarded savants rarely
find jobs related to their skills.

The two groups also respond differently to institutionalization. The mentally retarded savant is apt to do well in a special school, often developing even greater
savant talents there. The autistic savant, however, frequently loses his
special abilities when he is forced to attend an institution.

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