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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 36, Issue 3/4, 2020

Design and Semiotics

Seema Khanwalkar
Pages 351-367

Designed Environments, Mimesis and Likeness: Exploring Human-Material Ecologies

This paper attempts to understand the trajectories of  “designed artifacts”, built or produced in the post war periods and its implications for the human body, material, ecology, and mimesis. Has Architecture gradually distanced itself from the body as an authoritative figure in its practice? Is it being seen more and more as an autonomous art, away from the complex web of social and political concerns? There seems to be a rationale to focus on the thinking and considerations that inform the production of architecture because it depends on the realm of conceptual philosophy; and both inhabit each other. The paper tries to address the association of humans with their artifactual environments. My interest stems from a long association of teaching in a college of architecture and design, and attempts to raise questions with regard to meaning and materiality. This paper also, in some sense, unlocks an environmental perspective on the relationship of the human body with the design that gives them shelter, affords actions, affords movement, and affords life in itself. Different patterns of the built environment afford different behaviors and aesthetic experiences. The perceptions of the environment thus limit or extend the behavioral and aesthetic choices of an individual depending on how the environment is configured, likened, imitated, or creatively reinterpreted. This article traverses, domesticity, tactile inhabitation, landscape, mythical realms of Indian architecture to the Postmodern architecture of “weak form”.

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