Visual Research: Tamparuli Tamu

Another interesting illustrated book written and illustrated by Tina Rimmer called The Tamparuli Tamu. This book is a good source of visual research as I am able to see the art style and the way how Rimmer portrays the Tamu in Tamparuli. (Tamparuli is a small town and a sub-district of Tuaran on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysia)

Rimmer puts he focus on illustrating the local native people through observing them while they were doing their weekly trading and what’s fascinating about this book is I am also able to get a better understanding on the lifestyles of the native people by studying their poses, movements and actions. It is also a very straight to the point way to show readers on how a scene in a Tamu looked like.


The Tamparuli Tamu by Tina Rimmer


Fig 1. Medicine, music and massage


Fig 2. Different type of fruits and also the traditional sacks carried by the native people.


Fig 3. Squatting poses by the native women. This is also a typical scene in Tamu.


Fig 4. Native women


Fig 4. Portraits of native women


Rimmer, T. (1999) The Tamparuli Tamu: A Sabah Market. The Sabah Society

Available at:


Paradigm Shifts in the Western View of Exotic Arts (by Esther Pasztory)

What exactly do we mean when we say “the West”? We generally refer to a geographic area the core of which is Europe and North America after the sixteenth century. Sometimes we add Australia and less frequently Latin America. (Latin America is seen to be some kind of a mixture of the West and the Nonwest.) Usually, we include the Classical Antiquity of Greece and Rome, but not the European Middle Ages, or ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The epicenter of the “West” is actually even smaller, being limited to the civilization of western Europe and some of the U.S.

Non-geographically, the “West” is also the concept of a scientific and technological culture that has come to colonize the “Nonwest”—politically, economically, militarily and ideologically—over the last four centuries. The West has had a dominating world discourse for so long because its scientific and technological approach revolutionized the relationship of humans to nature and to one another. This is what we call “modernity”. The concept of modernity is confused in the West because aspects of industrial culture are indissolubly blended with western ideological values. Nonwesterners easily take apart what they see as a more or less neutral modernity (cars and cell phones) from western beliefs. To put it another way, modernity happened in the world in western clothes—it could have happened in another guise, perhaps East Asian, and that would have been another story.

Read more in this here.


(visited on November 1st, 2014)

Modernity sowed the seeds of globalization, and globalization has resulted in the emergence of the Nonwest away from the actual and ideological domination of the West. For example, today, China’s relation to Africa is as, or more important than, it’s relation to the West; and the world watches more Indian Bollywood films than American Hollywood ones. Nonwesterners are relating to each other without the mediation of the West.

Exoctism: Research pt. 2

As I continue into my research of understanding the word ‘exoticism’ I found an extract of a book through google scholar that can be useful to put into my bibliography research. A book by Victor Segalen (2002) ‘Essay on Exoticism: An Aesthetic of Diversity’ gave an insightful point of view on how he sees ‘exoticism’. Some key points that I find useful from this book:

  • Exoticism does not only exist in space, but equally in time.
  • Remove all banal from its sensation (coconut trees, camels) and extend the notion of exoticism to include the other sex, history, everything.
  • It is not merely ways of experiencing the orient, or erotic but a philosophical stance on the nature of self relationship to the world.

Segalen wanted to prove that exoticism is not all about the things that you see in tourism advertisement or brochures and how people stereotypically perceive what ‘exoticism’ all about. He wanted to see how exoticism could create diversity and to appreciate the difference between each other. But in order to create that, one should be aware of the difference between him/herself and ‘the other’. We are able to find a certain ‘uniqueness’ in our own culture but if we wanted to expand more understanding in diversity, we can travel to a place that is totally uncommon to us. Get a notion of exoticism in the surroundings; the culture, the people, the art, etc. We can also track back our own roots, to discover back the difference between our own culture to the others. With that, diversity could be created by understanding and recognising individual differences.

Then, strip away the word exoticism of its exclusively tropical, exclusively geographic meaning. Exoticism does not only exist in space, but equally dependent on time. (Segalen, 2002, p. 18)

Another interesting point that I found through a blog called The Lectern:

Exoticism and Diversity are ways to counteract the growing influence of modernity: market capitalism, mass tourism, feminism, democracy, which impose their own homogeneity on everything, what Segalen calls the Kingdom of the Lukewarm, the beige paste of entropy, a viscous mush. The world tends inexorably towards maximum entropy. An aesthetics of Diversity is one way to counteract this movement. An aesthetics of Diversity will allow a sense of distance, a sense of mystery to remain in a more and more uniforming world.

Exoticism and Diversity represent the force of individuality in a world contaminated by the herd. The difference between the tourist and the traveller.

It is important for future generations to recognise and know their roots, to see the difference between themselves with the other and of course, to also preserve their culture. As a person who comes from the indigenous category, the uniqueness in my own tribe is like a hidden gem, something very aesthetic that I hope can be appreciated for many years to come.


Segalen, Victor (2002) ‘Essay on Exoticism: An Aesthetic of Diversity’

 Available at:



(accessed on 19 October 2014)

The Lectern Blog:

(visited on 19 October 2014)


Next week, the Hindus will be celebrating the festival of lights, also known as Diwali. Here in Malaysia, Indians are one of the 3 main races after Malay and Chinese hence, Diwali is also celebrated widely here. Normally, the shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur will have a section where they will display decorations during a major festival like Chinese New Year, Eid and also Christmas. I managed to have a look at this Diwali decoration display at the shopping mall just close by where my workplace is. I thought it could be a good reference since I am researching about exoticism in art and you can definitely see the ‘exotic’ value in Indian art. The intricate details, the form and patterns and the vibrant colours that has been applied in the patterns. It is also a good study of design elements when looking at these patterns like the application of geometric design, repetition, symmetry and balance.

Rangoli is also one of the important elements in Diwali decoration and you are able to see different kind of Rangoli designs in different shopping malls here in KL. I have yet to research further about Indian art and patterns, hopefully I can do it in the next couple of weeks. I believe there are a lot more interesting things to know about these intricate patterns and maybe it could be useful when I start my Practice 1 later.

Diwali decoration in Sunway Pyramid shopping mallIMG_6920








All photos are taken by me using my trusty Iphone 5.

Research Topic

When I first started thinking of a topic to do my Research & Enquiry assignment, I had a pretty hard time trying to figure out the best topic that I can start working on. I re-read my proposal and focused on my main aim, which is to look into the art, culture and lifestyle of the indigenous tribes in Borneo (mainly in North Borneo).  I wanted to see how their art and culture could still be appreciated by younger generations and at the same time to also promote the beauty of these indigenous people. I have a lot of uncertainties and questions like how can I promote this traditional culture in this contemporary era? How am I able to create a new form of design and yet still apply the aesthetic value of this traditional culture? How can this be related to the design principles that I have studied before?

I was feeling very confused thinking about this that I decided to send an email to my tutor, Barbara regarding on the issue that I am facing. Barbara suggested ‘Exoticism’ as a topic that I could explore for my research. Then it has come to my realisation that in order for me to continue my research more further on North Borneo’s indigenous tribes, I should start from the basic. Get a better understanding of the meaning of exoticism, track on some history about this art movement and also to also study some works from famous artists that is applying exoticism in their artworks. I believe ingenious people are unique in their own way, their cultures are so rich that you may be able to find a lot of beauty in every aspects. So I have decided to go with my tutor’s suggestion and start my research based on the topic ‘Exoticism in Art & Culture’ I might still have doubt in this topic but I shall do my best to look into it.