Jon Adams works in a variety of mediums, is a trained geologist and considers himself to to be an ‘Outsider Artist’. Adams has Asperger Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder) and experiences synaesthesia, a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sense leads to automatic, involuntary responses in a second sense, for example, ‘seeing sounds’. The artist’s work explores sense and sensitivity through the ‘hidden’ and plays with perceptions of normal and the inaccessible.
Jon Adams was involved in the discussion 'Exploring the Autistic Mind' at Cheltenham Science Festival in 2011. The discussion considered whether these so called ‘impairments’ should be thought of in a different way. The discussion also included Kathy Sykes, Professor of Sciences and Society at the University of Bristol, Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre, Gabriel Hardistry-Miller, a non-verbal man with autism and artist Ben Connors, who runs a music, performance and poetry club called Pig Pen.
From May 2012 until June 2013, Jon Adams held a post as the Artist in Residence at the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. This residency culminated in an event entitled Konfirm, where the artist screened videos, presented his blog and gave a talk about his work with synthesizers.
In this residency and research project, Jon Adams set out on a personal, artistic and scientific investigation of his own Asperger's Syndrome, through a series of conversations, observations and experiments, working in collaboration with Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen, sees autism as being on a continuum in the general population. He proposes that certain features of autistic people - ‘obsessions’ and repetitive behaviour - previously regarded as purposeless, are conversely highly purposive, intelligent (hyper-systemising), and a sign of a different way of thinking. He argues that high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome need not just lead to disability, but can also lead to talent.