Irish students win top Euro multimedia prize

13 Nov 2003

A group of Dublin City University (DCU) undergraduates has won a major category in the Europrix Multimedia Top Talent Award 2003.

With its project called ‘Savant’, which is about autism and autistic savants, the Irish students beat off competition from 90 other teams from around Europe in the best Offline/DVD multimedia project category. The award ceremony took place last week in the Technical Museum in Vienna.

Savant is an interactive artistic interpretation of autism. Announcing the results, the judging panel was impressed by the extensive research the project was based on and the way it used multimedia to its fullest potential to present autism as a distinct and unique mode of being rather than as a disability.

The project profiles four savants with different gifts. Thristan ‘Tum-Tum’ Mendoza is a musical savant; Jessica Park is an artistic savant; David Kidd has the ability to identify the day of the week for any date from the past or the future, and Temple Grandin can construct and manipulate 3D drawings in her mind before committing them to paper. Savant uses multimedia as a vehicle to open a window into the world of autism and show what daily life is like for autistic people.

Savant was produced by Oonagh Casey, David Coyle, Mark Matthews, Deirdre Molloy, Damian Polly and Sinead Stafford as their thesis project for the 2002 Multimedia Masters in DCU. The project received the highest mark ever awarded to a multimedia masters thesis in DCU. It has been exhibited twice in the Helix gallery in DCU and as part of the Dublin Art and Technology Association series of talks.

It was also selected for display in a three-month international design exhibition – called Exhibit 3: Design – in the Digital Hub, which ran from July to September this year. Now, as part of the Europrix competition, Savant will be displayed in different museums throughout Europe during 2004.

By Brian Skelly