Quantum Hand Through My Eyes by Jason Padgett, 2006. Image courtesy of Fine Art America.
“I see shapes and angles everywhere in real life — from the geometry of a rainbow, to the fractals in water spiraling down a drain.”
Photon Double Slit Test by Jason Padgett, 2006. Image courtesy of Fine Art America.
He also started drawing everything he saw. Doctors later concluded that Padgett developed savant syndrome from the injury. Savant syndrome is a rare but extraordinary condition in which persons that were either born with serious mental disabilities (including autism), or those who suffered a traumatic injury, have access to an “island of genius”. This means that those with savant syndrome can read, interpret, remember, and create an enormous amount of data. Padgett sees equations and complex geometry in the world around him, and can draw them effortlessly.
Savant skills typically occur in an intriguingly narrow range of special abilities, mostly: music, art, calendar calculating, or math
The special skills are always accompanied by prodigious memory
Savant skills characteristically continue, rather than disappear, and with continued use, the special abilities either persist at the same level or actually increase
Spiral Scalar by Jason Padgett, 2008. Image courtesy of Fine Art America
In addition to developing savant syndrome, Padgett also developed a type of synesthesia that “allows him to perceive mathematical formulas as geometric figures”. (New to my site? You should read my previous posts on synesthesia.) A team of researchers at the University of Miami scanned Padgett’s brain to understand how these savant and synesthetic qualities emerged after the accident. Why is this significant? Padgett’s case suggests that these amazing abilities lie dormant in every human brain. Understanding how the severe trauma altered his brain could lead the way to furthering human creativity. Padgett developed this new way of seeing and experiencing reality. What if it could be developed without trauma? I’m certain that it can be developed, and look forward to see what science can discover in the near future.
- Sudden Artistic Output: This is an extremely rare neurological condition that affects the brain’s breaking system. So what does this mean? It means that the brain can no longer inhibit certain behaviors. In the case of sudden artistic output, people who have this condition has a compulsion to create works of art.
- Puzzles of the Brain: Artist Lonni Sue Anderson contracted encephalitis. She had such an acute case of encephalitis that she had permanent brain damage in the hypocampus. This is the region of the brain that stores memory. Lonni Sue short and long-term memory were affected. She had to relearn how to walk, talk, and eat. She has to relearn how to create art again, with interesting results.
- Teaching Synesthesia as a Gateway to Creativity: My peer-reviewed article for the University of Warwick that chronicles my results in teaching about synesthesia, lending students a new frame work for creative expression. The Warwick Research Journal Murgia Article