Tutorial: Block 3, Week 4: Research Paper Seminar

David Somers bio photo By David Somers Comment

Following the previous Research Paper Briefing, this week’s group tutorial was lead by Gareth Polmeer who will be the supervisor for the research paper.

My Area of Interest

Hybridity, Mimicry, Third Space. Can concepts from contemporary post-colonial theory inspire abstract art?

I’m “translating” cultures for visual elements… taking something from social science and using it as a springboard for visual art.

The terms I’m using “hybridity”, “mimicry”, and the “third space” are espoused by Homi K Bhaba in the field of contemporary post-colonial theory.

  • “Hybridisation” describes the emergence of new cultural forms from multiculturalism.
  • “Mimicry” is when one culture imitates and takes on the culture of another.
  • The “third space” is an ambiguous area that develops when two or more individuals/cultures interact.

Is it possible for these concepts, based on “culture” in a “society” to be applied in a visual world: “color/form/texture” in an “artwork”, and if so, how?

Need to examine these concepts from “culture” and see how they translate/inspire into “artwork”, manifesting through pictorial space.

e.g. application of ”hybridity” — how things mix and interact to produce new things, e.g. Brownian motion (physical world), Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (financial world), etc.

So to link things: - color theory: blue + yellow = green - system theory: sum greater than the parts - post colonial theory: emergence of new cultural forms from multiculturalism (“hybridisation”)

Fedback from Gareth

I think in your study David, as for others, in can be useful to set out a paragraph or so at the beginning, explaining the terms your using, and their connections (as you’ve done here). This can help to set the stage for the discussion, and clear up any complexities about the definitions at the start.

That sounds promising David. I guess one has to be measured about the reasonable scope of this paper, but I would certainly encourage some intellectual exploration and experiment here. The paper is a good opportunity to open some new lines of thinking relevant to your practice.

You could even include a table diagram David, showing how the triadic structure connects the different fields.

See also

During the seminar when discussing Bianca’s research project she provided a link to a site of interest to her: Weevmee™ — A Woven Digital Image. I should come back to that site another time as it was rather interesting.


As always, it is great to find out what everybody else in the cohort is up to for their research paper. There is a bit of overlap in what some people are doing at there was a good discussion revolving around phenomenology, presence/absence, dualism, etc.

For this seminar we had to prepare a brief idea of what our area of interest is. There is nothing quite like an impending seminar to focus the mind. My research and practice have been revolving around “Hybridity”, “Mimicry”, and the “Third Space”, all contemporary post-colonial concepts from Homi K Bhabha… but I want to apply these concepts to a visual world instead of to a societal world. This is clearly distinct from art about post colonialism and is something that I need to make clear and to be clear about.

Given a trifecta of “Hybridity”, “Mimicry”, and the “Third Space”, I suspect the comment Gareth made about “…one has to be measured…” is a hint that this might be too broad for the research paper. Each of those could be a paper in their own right. However, the interrelationship between them is an interesting aspect. I suspect these things will resolved as I dig into the research and make headway writing the research paper.

During the seminar I found my mind wandering a bit when everybody else was talking about phenomenology and such things (an area that I am not familiar with)… it was then that I had the idea to add to my text the concept linking theories and their application, i.e.

  • color theory: blue + yellow = green
  • system theory: sum greater than the parts
  • post colonial theory: emergence of new cultural forms from multiculturalism (“hybridisation”)

I think this is succinct but conveys a lot. It is also significant that my practice is, to a greater or lessor extent, incorporates these theories.

I also scribbled some notes on the rules/constraints that my practice is moving towards… a potential manifesto?

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