Altered neuro states

Author: Tom Fox

Altered Neuro States

Tom Fox
3 December 2019

Fox, M.T.J. (2019). Altered Neuro States. (An abstract of a dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of Fine Arts at the Dunedin School of Art, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand)


Altered Neuro States (2019) is presented in three chapters. The first covers how mark making is an important step for learning about the world in the developing mind of the child. It describes mark making as a foundation for developing systems of communication, and how communication influences the way humans navigate through dimensional space and thought. These assertions are supported through drawing on the work of a number of artists and researchers, writer Emma Dexter, theoretical psychologist Nicholas Humphrey, psychologist Lorna Selfe, archaeologist Penny Spikins, neurologist Oliver Sacks and cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky.

The second chapter discusses the human brain, with a focus on the neurological conditions autism spectrum disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and sensory processing disorder. Aspects of how the brain processes information are discussed, highlighting ways in which neurological conditions can alter the structure of brain regions, and the effects on brain function. The regulation of emotions in social frameworks and aspects of affect theory are also addressed. The neurological theories presented this chapter draw on the writing of a number of scientists and researchers: Jeffery Statinover, Joe Dispenza, and Eric Shouse, as well as examples based in the lived experience of the author.

The final chapter brings together the previous two chapters, with a focus on Fox’s art practice, where he describes his own sensory experiences in relation to his art practice, and also discusses his research in the context of other artists with neurological conditions. These artists include Chuck Close (1940-), Melissa McCracken (1990-), Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) and Susan Te Kahurangi King (1951-).

Key words: drawing, autism, sensory processing disorder; post-traumatic stress disorder

This thesis was supervised by Alex Kennedy, Michele Beevors and Clive Humphreys.


This abstract is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial licence CC BY-NC 4.0 International. The thesis is not publicly available online. A bound hard copy is available to borrow for research purposes from the Robertson Library, University of Otago. 

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