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Tourette's as an Art Form

Jess Thom's Talk on Tourette's Boasts the Condition's Creative Potential

— May 29, 2019 — Keynote Trends
Jess Thom -- a comedian, an artist and the founder of Touretteshero, delivers an astonishing talk on Tourette's that addresses common misconceptions about the condition and reveals the creative potential behind its physical and verbal manifestations.

Tourette's impacts people differently. It includes involuntary motor and vocal tics that have no tie to what the individual believes or is thinking about. With about 300,000 cases in the UK alone, the condition is not considered a rare one. Jess Thom strives to see the creative potential in this, to draw out a "witty, innovatory, phantasmagorical picture" through her involuntary tics. As a result, the speaker founded Touretteshero. Through her organization, Jess Thom helps people with the condition turn their frustration into art, as well as guide the public to better understand the manifestation of the disease. By viewing people with Tourette's as "language-generating machines," the organization is able to give the power back to them through the opportunity of recasting their symptoms as "springboard for creativity."

During the talk on Tourette's, the speaker plays a soundbite of her ticcing fits which have become a feature of her daily life where she loses complete control over her motor functions. In collaboration with a music technologist at UWE and a composer, Jess transforms data of her fits into a mesmerizing sound piece.

Thus, Tourettesheros is not only able to give a healthy outlet for people with Tourette's, but it is also able to "replace misconceptions with understanding."