Prof. Samer Akkach, on “Vision and Representation in Islamic Art and Architecture”


For the fifth episode of the Heritage Talks, IRCICA hosted the scholar of the history and theory of art and architecture Prof. Samer Akkach from the University of Adelaide, Australia, with his lecture titled “Vision and Representation in Islamic Art and Architecture”. The program was conducted live online.

In his captivating and instructive lecture, Professor Akkach guided the audience into an understanding of the logic of the viewer-artist’s way of “seeing” and “re-presenting” space and things that shaped the flat, two-dimensional depictions in Islamic miniature paintings in opposition to the accurate “perspectivization” that marks modern arts, for which he compared some key analytical concepts such as “gaze” vs. “vision” and “perception” vs. “comprehension” in their Western and Islamic artistic contexts. This analysis of the vision and representation processes also challenges the claims that Islamic arts would have remained at the two-dimensional level due to a lack of perspective.

Professor Akkach is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, Professor and Founding Director of the Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture at the University of Adelaide, Australia. His scholarship spans several fields, as reflected by the following titles of some of his books published: Cosmology and Architecture in Premodern Islam (2005);  Islam and the Enlightenment (2007); Letters of a Sufi Scholar (2010); Intimate Invocations (2012), Damascene Diaries (2015); Istanbul Observatory (2017) and he edited: ʿIlm: Science, Religion and Art in Islam (2019), and Naẓar: Vision, Belief, and Perception in Islamic Cultures (2022).

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