Environmental Forms

Nathalie Blanc

By “form” we mean any momentary (event) or lasting (entity) crystallization of a proposal of meaning and/or organized life. The forms thus conceived take shape via several processes: creation, reception (perception and appreciation) and interpretation. Environmental forms therefore appear as forms relating to environmental issues and to the production of an ordinary environment. The notion of “forms of life” in particular is central to the understanding of ecology and morphogenesis of the ways in which biological life is organized, for both human and non-human communities. From external conformation to internal essence, principles of stability and dynamic model, structure and genesis, and between exogenous print and autopoiesis, examining environmental forms must involve exploring the multi-dimensional features of the notion of form, understood as a basic concept for any reflection on life. Although the term “form” is both commonly used and scientifically discussed, when seen in a contemporary perspective that includes environmental problems, it could contribute to a widening of the interdisciplinary debate and make it possible to go beyond the aporia created by underestimating the potentialities of the humanities and social sciences when confronted with environmental issues. In the same way, the earth sciences and natural sciences could benefit from the manifold considerations of biological and physico-chemical forms.

Keywords: forms, habitability, artistic forms
Antonyms: disorder, disarrangement
Synonyms: shape, arrangement

Genealogies: c. 1200, forme, fourme, "semblance, image, likeness," from Old French forme, fourme, "physical form, appearance; pleasing looks; shape, image; way, manner" (12c.), from Latin forma "form, contour, figure, shape; appearance, looks; a fine form, beauty; an outline, a model, pattern, design; sort, kind condition," a word of unknown origin. One theory holds that it is from or cognate with Greek morphe "form, beauty, outward appearance" (see Morpheus) via Etruscan [Klein].

From c. 1300 as "physical shape (of something), contour, outline," of a person, "shape of the body;" also "appearance, likeness;" also "the imprint of an object." From c. 1300 as "correct or appropriate way of doing something; established procedure; traditional usage; formal etiquette." Mid-14c. as "instrument for shaping; a mould;" late 14c. as "way in which something is done," also "pattern of a manufactured object." Used widely from late 14c. in theology and Platonic philosophy with senses "archetype of a thing or class; Platonic essence of a thing; the formative principle." From c. 1300 in law, "a legal agreement; terms of agreement," later "a legal document" (mid-14c.). Meaning "a document with blanks to be filled in" is from 1855. From 1590s as "systematic or orderly arrangement;" from 1610s as "mere ceremony." From 1550s as "a class or rank at school" (from sense "a fixed course of study," late 14c.). Form-fitting (adj.) in reference to clothing is from 1893. More

Blanc, N., (2016), Les formes de l’environnement. Manifeste pour une esthétique politique. Lausanne: MétisPresses, Collection HorsChamps.
Blanc, N., Benish, B., (2016), Form, art, and environment: engaging in sustainability. London: Routledge.

COST Action IS1307 New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on 'How Matter Comes to Matter'.

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With the changing of societies on local, national and international scales owing to economic, ecological, political and technological developments and crises, a reorganized academic landscape can be observed to be emerging. Scholarship strives to become increasingly interdisciplinary in order to grasp and examine the unfolding complexity of ongoing ecological, socio-cultural and politico-economic changes. Additionally, academics forge... Read more or find out Who's Who

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Genealogies of New Materialisms; examines and intervenes in canonization processes by compiling a web-based bibliography, coordinating the OST 068/13 8 EN... Read more

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New Materialisms on the Crossroads of the Natural and Human Sciences; seeks to develop new materialisms at the boundaries of the human and natural sciences. The group focuses on how European new materialisms can rework the ‘Two Cultures' gap... Read more

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New Materialisms Embracing the Creative Arts; brings together European researchers, artists, museum professionals, and other activists with a keen interest in the material... Read more

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New Materialisms Tackling Economical and Identity – Political Crises and Organizational Experiments... Read more


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New Materialism —
Networking European Scholarship on 'How matter comes to matter’

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