Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
natural environment, urban environment, contemporary environment, histori-
cal environment [4]; historical landscape, contemporary landscape, natural
landscape, urban landscape [5]. The definitions of environment have gone
from wide-ranging and all-inclusive ones—“ the complex of social, cultural,
and moral conditions in which a person is found, formed, and defined 8 —to
narrow ones operating squarely in the ecological school, where the concept of
environment is complementary to that of living organism — “ all of the biot-
ic and abiotic factors that act on an organism, population, or ecological com-
munity and influence its survival and development ” [6] 9 . Regarding the concept
of landscape, the definition given by the Devoto-Oli Italian dictionary in 1971
is what is still used in some environmental impact studies : “ a portion of the
territory considered from the perspective or descriptive point of view, for the
most part with an emotional sense that is more or less associated with an eval-
uation of artistic or aesthetic order 10 . Similar definitions in German ( land-
schaft ) or French ( paysage ) do not avoid this classical scenic interpretation.
An interpretation by the geographer Franco Farinelli strikes at the intrinsic
ambiguity in the concept of landscape: “ the things and their image ” [7]. The
openness and ambiguity of the notion of landscape was taken up by Alberto
Clementi when he identified the divergence of interpretations and judgments
of value as the cause of different cognitive perspectives [8]. Roberto Gambino
would amplify this concept, speaking about useful and fertile ambiguity that
recalls the tension between subjectiveness and objectiveness and drives back
the objectifying charms of the Earth sciences [9]. But the naturalist Friedrich
Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt had already gathered in 1860
the positive tension that is triggered between subject and object:
To hug nature in all its sublime majesty, it is not enough to obey external
phenomena; it is necessary to show how this echoes within humans and how,
in virtue of this reflex, it sometimes populates the sooty camps of myths with
weightless images, and sometimes develops the noble germ of art [10].
Internalizing landscapes to then return them under an artistic form becomes
a way of expressing techne . It is an experiential landscape practiced by many
artists. For one celebrated painter of Italian landscapes, Tullio Pericoli 11 ,
8 Definition of “ambiente”, Dizionario (Dictionary) Devoto-Oli, p. 197.
9 Other definitions of environment: “... in ecology refers to both physical and biological factors
affecting organisms ”, Sherman Hollar (2011) Ecology. Rosen Education Service Publishing;
those variables that (...) through their effect on the individual, affect the vital rates of the popu-
lation ”, Salvatore JA, Klemens JA (2008) Ecological fitting by phenotypically flexible genotypes:
implications for species associations, community assembly and evolution. Ecology Letters
10 Definition of “landscape”. Dizionario (Dictionary) Devoto-Oli.
11 Tullio Pericoli is a famous Italian artist who is very attentive to the interpretation of agrarian land-
scapes. His preferred subjects are gentle slopes in which vineyards, cultivated fields, shrubs, forests,
ditches, and small valleys alternate with the farms. It is as if every part is stitched to another.
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