The Functional Circle of the Landscape

As in the theory of meaning, autopoiesis theory, and semiotic science, the concept of circle or closure is adopted to describe phenomena that behave as if they were in a circle. This vision can be useful to describe the ontogenetic mechanisms of landscapes. Considering the three visions of the landscape, the Individual-Based Perceptional Landscape (IBPL), the Individual-Based Cognitive Landscape (IBCL), and the Neutrality-Based Landscape (NBL), the relationships between them are not irreversible and mono-directional but recursively prone. In IBPL, a species needs an existing space in which to select the perceived objects necessary to accomplish functional traits. In IBCL, the observer has the same exigencies described for the IBPL by which to add a conceptual framework to link attributes and to create relationships. At the same time, during the descriptive phase the observer modifies the objects observed. For instance, if we observe a beautiful forest, we could decide to camp inside, producing some types of interference with the natural entities as a consequence of our cognitive evaluative process. Finally, in NBL the IBPL and the IBCL converge at which point we have to add other possible phenomelogical domains that at the present are not observable but forecasted. The circle is completed and I call this the "Landscape ontogenetic closure" in which every component contributes and is part of the other phenomenological domains (Fig. 5.1).

If a landscape is the space of all interactions and relationships, in this space we can distinguish energetic, informative, and semiotic interactions between the different actors that appear in a specific area. I refer to both abiotic actors (physical process) and biotic ones (genetic and semiotic processes).

We try to begin considering the NBL as the more "physical" entity although immediate contradictions appear. In fact, this landscape is the result of involuntary individual-based landscape interactions. In this definition our physical dimension is supported by a cognitive component. Furthermore, in the premises I have also considered the landscape as the result of human observation, or as a creation of our observer perception driven by our culture. Again, the conceptual properties of the landscape are coupled with the physical components.

Whatever we consider, the ontogenetic processes are common to all three visions of the landscape. I use the word ontogenesis specifically to underscore the complex



Fig. 5.1 Representation of the landscape closure created by the three functional-based landscapes (IBPL, individual-based perceptional landscape; IBCL, individual-based cognitive landscape; NBL, neutrality-based landscape)



nature of a landscape as a system of several domains that can or can't interact via a meta-domain, or can or can't stay in isolation.

If I consider that every phenomenon is active in a specific domain and that every landscape is the product of forces applied in temporal sequence, I need to introduce the concept of the infinite domain in which space, time, and organization operate. When I describe a present-day landscape, I have to be careful because the organization/time of this system can't be erased. I use the term infinite to stress the huge combinations of ontogenetic conditions that a system can experience.

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