Mutual mimesis of nature and culture: A representational perspective for eco-cultural metamorphosis

  • Farouk Y. Seif


Since the beginning of history humans have attempted to represent nature and culture through mimesis. This article focuses on the teleological aspects of mimesis and offers a different perspective that transcends the notion of sustainability into an eco-humanistic metamorphosis of culture and nature. Drawing from semiotics, phenomenology and architectural design the article challenges the polarization of mimetic representations of nature and culture, which are inclusive and homomorphic phenomena, and offers insight into the mutual mimesis of nature and culture. Two different empirical observations substantiate the theoretical perspective: 1) a tradition advanced by the Egyptians’ stylization of visual representations of the mimicry of nature and culture; and 2) a current architectural design activity that integrates the mimesis of nature and culture. The article makes the case for a theoretical approach that integrates mimetic principles in creating a sustainable environment and an authentic ecoliving. The article concludes with ethical implications on the way we perceive the mutual resemblances in nature and culture, and on our semiotic understanding of the teleological aspects of mimesis.


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