Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities


Are you a fan of Italo Calvino, in particular his novel Invisible Cities?

Then I have something  here for you – a blog devoted to this fine piece of literature: Third Manifestation.

Third Manifestation muses about the literary and philosophical roots of this novel, addressing prominent writers and thinkers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Walter Benjamin and Jacques Lacan. You will find discussions on the book’s chapters, all supported with “city maps”, keywords and references.


Quick Access to Course Pages

Play is Older Than Culture

play interface

Las Meninas – Composition

The Painting



Basic Compositional Lines and Division of the Visual Field

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Use of Compositional Lines and Area Division in Object Placement

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Symmetrical Placement and Balance

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Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez


Have a look at one of the most enigmatic paintings in art history, Las Meninas (1656), painted by famous Baroque Era artist Diego Velazquez (1599-1661).



This painting is built on a very complex system of compositional lines and area divisions. Below you can see a handmade analytical sketch of its compositional structure:



You may have noticed the Santiago Cross on the painter’s chest. Santiago is the spanish name for Saint James, one of the earliest and important martyrs in Christian history. Saint James is believed to have preached in Spain, so he is seen not only as a martyr, but also as the founder of the first Christian community in Spain. He has therefore been considered to be the protecting Saint of the Spainish lands and people. Interestingly enough, Diego Velazquez’s first name is a spanish equivalent of the name James.

Velazquez got accepted into the Santiago Order a few years after the impressive work he did with Las Meninas, and the Santiago Cross on the painter’s chest was added to the painting after his acceptance.

But his motivation was quite beyond mere adding the cross later on. It influenced his design and composition right from the start. When one analyzes the composition carefully, one detects that the compositional lines do intersect at the heart of painting so as to create an invisible version of the Santiago Cross. The cross is positoned on the -from our view- right shoulder of the Infanta, almost at the center of the painting. One arm of the cross stretches towards the King, whose reflection can be seen in the mirror; the other arm stretches towards Nieto Velazquez, brother of Diego, who stands at the stairway.



Do add more to this, let us extend the lines of this compositional grid to their natural limits.

Let’s look at the expanded composition vertically first. We find it to look similar to a church plan.


An oval used at the center of a church’s design was something often used in Baroque Architecture. A good for an oval design  is Bernini’s Saint Andreas Church.

However, a deeper search does not really yield any results for a church designed after this model, and especially not one that was built in the name of Saint James.


Bu this changes when we use the grid sketch vertically. One may now say that it resembles the façade of a building.



It does not take long to find a church façade like this. Actually there is one church in Spain, dedicated to Saint James, that is extremely important: The Santiago Church of Compostela: Here is a view of the Eastern façade, where the relics of Saint James are buried.


And here the extended grid of Las Meninas, layed out and divided vertically.



It looks like that the acceptance to the Santiago Order was of much more importance to Diego Velazquez than one might have imagined. His design for Las Meninas seem to go back as far as to the Church of Saint James himself.

The compositional structure of the façade of the Santiago Church must have been used as a blueprint for the painting’s compositional structure. The Santiago Cross is therefore already present in the painting in many ways.

But finally the painter was accepted to the Santiago Order and he could paint the Cross on his chest as well.

Great job, Senor!

My Game (In One Long Sentence)

Do you find it difficult to summarize your game proposal? Well, here is a, uhm, thing that may help you. It’s some sort of an elevator pitch, or how I prefer to call it, My Game (In One Long Sentence).

Hope it helps you to get your idea on its feet, and to express your proposal in a quick and accurate way!

Elevator Pitch


And this is how you fill in the details:


Elevator Pitch Details


Good luck!

New Job

Today I completed a shift from my former employer, the İzmir University, to my new employer, the İzmir University of Economics.

I will teach simultaneously at two departments/faculties: The Art and Design faculty enrolled me to teach introductory art and design lessons, whereas the Software Engineering department invited me to teach game design lessons.

I’m very excited and I am looking forward to meet my new colleagues and students!

Paper Presentation at the ICIDS 2013

I’m back from Istanbul where I gave a talk in this year’s ICIDS. It was a great organization with very interesting keynote speakers such as Ernest Adams, Adam Russell and Toni Dove.

I presented a paper on the visual construction of narrative spaces in video games, which you can find here!

Next year’s ICIDS will take place in Singapore, and I’m looking forward to it!

Game Studies Symposium at Kadıköy

Today I was a moderator at the Game Studies Symposium that took place at TAK (Kadıköy Design Workshop), and I had the honour to sit around the same table with a number of prominent figures from the turkish game studies and game development scene: Kerem Yavuz Demirbaş (IT Kopenhagen, Marmara U.), Tonguç Sezen (Georgia Tech, Bilgi U.), Diğdem Sezen (Georgia Tech, İstanbul U.), and Fasih Sayın (Crytek İstanbul, İstanbul U.). We had an interesting talk about game studies in front of a group of around 100 game developers, game researchers and game enthusiasts. Topics changed quickly and showed great variety, and the audience was keen to jump in with nice comments!

Before and after the event, I find the chance to talk many friends such as Ali Batı (a very talented and successful game developer from İstanbul) and Orçun Nişli (known for his work on the game Monochrome), and also some of the students that I worked together with at the BUG Game Dev Summer School back in 2012: Engin, Furkan, Atakan, Güney and Şan.

The organizer of the event was Güven Çatak, founder and executive at BUG Labs in Bahçeşehir U./İstanbul, in cooperation with Mehmet Kentel from the turkish critical game studies blog Fareler Oyunda. I’m thankful for the good time they made possible for us!