Ekphrasis in Architectural Representation: on Danteum and the Museum of Innocence

Somer P. M., Erdem A.

MEGARON, vol.10, no.2, pp.179-194, 2015 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.5505/megaron.2015.25338
  • Journal Name: MEGARON
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.179-194
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


A look at contemporary studies on architectural discourse reveals their focus on two topics: inter-disciplinary aspects of architecture and the crisis of representation. It is a characteristic of architectural design to use knowledge from other science and disciplines and this creates fertile ground for new expansions. Inter-art studies, with their new experiments in which they borrow creative and representational tools from other disciplines, may be seen as a way to overcome this crisis. The concept of ekphrasis-a genre of ancient rhetoric-became an area of interest in the second half of the last century, and has been studied by academicians and artists ever since; first in its own field of literature, and then in the area of other representational arts such as photography, cinema, etc. The basic definition of the concept, 'a verbal representation of a visual representation', has expanded in meaning and ekphrasis has become an inter-medium which provides the transposition of meaning between different areas of representation. As studies were done on this concept, the direction of ekphrasis also came up for discussion, which in turn became a discussion on reverse-ekphrasis 'a visual representation of a verbal representation'. The outcome of all these debates points to ekphrasis as a potential tool between architecture and literature. By considering it as a medium which achieves the transposition of meaning, and thereby displays the spatial potentials of literature, it will provide a new perspective for architectural representation. The thesis of the article will be supported by two case studies to be discussed in the article: Danteum and Masumiyet Muzesi (The Museum of Innocence).