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Transmedial Ekphrasis. From Analogic to Digital Formats

Asunción López-Varela Azcárate


Art is a way to give autonomy to sensorial experiences beyond natural perception. Thus, it serves as a form of meta-representation, a model for raising awareness in recognition and cognition. In the West, the first discussions on aesthetics, coming mainly from ancient Greece, inscribed art within analogy and representation (mimesis) and, simultaneously, within telling and narration (diegesis). The term ekphrasis was used to describe the skills that enabled the translation of artistic content and its expression in different formats, whether painting, sculpture, oral poetry, writing, dance, performance and so on. Until the 20th century, ekphrasis was mainly contemplated as the verbalization of aesthetic aspects from visual media (mostly painting and sculpture). In this paper, I examine Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” included in the novel Through the Looking-Glass, and compare it to Jan Švankmajer’s 1971 movie by the same title. I also explore Simon Biggs’ 2010 installation reRead, inspired in the novel. The three works are used as examples of art works which break analogic principles and bring to the fore, each in a different medium, the metamorphosis of ekphrastic processes.[1]

[1] I am indebted to Prof. Lars Elleström (Linneaus University, Sweden) for bringing Jan Švankmajer’s work to my attention. For more information on Švankmajer’s “Jabberwocky”, see Elleström’s recent volume Media Transformation (2014).


Ekphrasis; Jabberwocky; Lewis Carroll; Jan Švankmajer; Simon Biggs; Transmedia; digital formats

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ijtl-2015-001-lope

International Journal of Transmedia Literacy (IJTL)
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (22/10/2014 n. 328)
Online ISSN 2465-2261 - Print ISSN 2465-227X

Editor in Chief: Matteo Ciastellardi
Managing Editor: Giovanna Di Rosario
Managing Committee: Matteo Andreozzi, Stefano Calzati, Ugo Eccli, Cristina Miranda de Almeida.

Board Committee: Alan Albarran (University of North Texas, United States), Rogério Barbosa Da Silva (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil), Giovanni Baule (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Laura Borràs Castanyer (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain), Derrick de Kerckhove (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California, United States), Marsha Kinder (University of Southern California, United States), Raine Koskimaa (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), George Landow (Brown University, United States), Paul Levinson (Fordham University, United States), Asún López-Varela (Universidad Complutense, Spain), Lev Manovich (City University of New York, United States), Nick Montfort (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States), Marcos Novak (UCLA - University of California, Los Angeles, United States), Massimo Parodi (Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy), Bruce W. Powe (York University, Canada), Kate Pullinger (Bath Spa University, United Kingdom), Marie-Laure Ryan (Indipendent Scholar), Alexandra Saemmer (Université Paris 8, France), Carlos Scolari (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain), Susana Tosca (IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Alessandro Zinna (Université Toulouse II, France)

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