Re-reading İstiklal Street using an optical toy: zoetrope montage

Özdamar E. G.

arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, vol.26, no.2, pp.169-183, 2022 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 26 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/s1359135522000239
  • Journal Name: arq: Architectural Research Quarterly
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Art Abstracts, Art Index, Art Source, Avery, ICONDA Bibliographic, Index Islamicus, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.169-183
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


© This article examines multi-modal perceptions of İstiklal Street, a public space in İstanbul, using a zoetrope, an optical, scientific, and educational instrument invented in the mid-nineteenth century that was a predecessor to film in early cinema. It discusses how this tool increases the awareness of architectural students to environmental perception through observation. Constructing a black curtained zoetrope with a radius of five metres allowed them to metaphorically inhabit the optical device as it was large enough for their bodies to enter. After experiencing İstiklal Street as flâneur/flâneuse, students aimed to understand its heterogenous and fragmented narrative using the zoetrope. Re-reading the street through a zoetrope enabled a paradoxical interplay between the device and its scale. By interacting with a zoetrope to create different fragmented movements and scales, movement in the urban space was understood as more than a visual perception or transient state of curiosity. Instead, the students comprehended architectural production through filmmaking as 'a mode of reflection' rather than as mere representation. The zoetrope became a medium through which the students' visual, haptic, and kinaesthetic senses were fused together.