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This presentation analyses the narration of space in panorama by identifying the critical role of irony as rhetorical device. Yet the earliest panorama installations stressed scientific accuracy in depicting the scene and afforded particular attention to the spectator. Nevertheless, the panorama, invented by Robert Barker in 1787, is not merely a rational means of spatial understanding. I will argue that early panorama makers constitute a specific poetics of space in their panoramas. The hypothesis is that they do not simply use space as a background for the depicted historical event, or even an agent of representation and experience, but also contribute to reveal space as a critical issue of architecture’s own narrative configuration, in anticipation of the mechanism for representing and viewing architecture in panoramas. Firstly, I will study irony in the literature, then a rhetorical device, as irony is a necessity for panorama painters and in general for all those who strive to embellish nature and to appeal to the imagination. Irony as rhetorical figure primary conveys the idea of incongruity, in order to deprecate or ridicule a course of action. As such, irony is an inexhaustible source of unusual ideas, fictional images and interesting subjects. As the irony of the ‘promised land’ that lay not across the threshold of death but beyond the horizon, the panorama provides a symbolic journey around the horizon to offer a “tableau of opportunities” – a newborn reality. If space is the narrative conveyor shaped throughout the dramatization of action, then the panorama becomes a stage for simulating fictional aspects of reality. To this end, the main goal of the presentation will be to articulate panorama as a method of negotiating reality by making it not only an experiential or scientific issue but rather a rhetorical device.

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Katarina Andjelkovic 2167
Scientific production

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