Post 572by Gautam Shah


A domain is a very ambivalent term. It is a sphere, area, orbit, field, arena, demesne, land region, or realm. Domains have two obvious features: 1 people who create and command it and, 2 features that indicate the effective extent. A domain could also be an abstract effect, an idea of a space, exploited to sustain the myth of a place. The domain as abstract effectuality is circumstantial, a metaphysical, metaphorical or virtual entity.


Fortified domain –Carcassonne Castle Wikipedia image by Petitemontagnedujura

Physical domains are territorial domains. People occupy lands naturally, forcefully or notionally and distinguish it as domain by personalization of the place. Lands have defining barriers or edges that define the effective extent of the domain. Domains, have features that highlight their size, character, activity, identity, distinctiveness, exclusivity, knowledge, effectivity, ownership, rights, and conformity

Metaphysical domains operate without any dependence on a territorial form. Free Mason Society, Veggies (Vegetarians), Cults (Hare Rama Hare Krishna), Religions, are such metaphysical domains.


Initiation of an apprentice into Free Mason around 1800 >> Wikipedia image

Metaphorical domains have a founding representation or notion. All acts and beliefs, confirming or extending the existence, are acts of participation in commanding the domain. Metaphoric domains are relevant to only a particular class of occupants. Others are unaware of it, or intentionally ignore it. Graphics, symbols, signage, languages, codes, gestures (body language), forms, proportions, colours, expressions, etc. are some of the allegorical presences. Art movements, fashion styles, literary movements create metaphoric domains. Some spatial features and environmental conditions often occur in concert, and so presence of one, metaphorically triggers the other. Historical monuments, places of reverence (temples, ashrams), and memorials have such eminence. Nightclubs, amusement parks, exhibitions, public buildings like airports, also have abstracted elements.


What began as a metaphysical domain entity is now a landed domain… but soon may revert to metaphysical state > Wikipedia image by Austin McKinley

Virtual domains come into being through a wider affirmation of a concept. The governance is through the adherence and advantage out of it. Internet communities like World Wide Web (WWW), G+, Face Book, Tweeter or Blogs are examples of such realms. These are not tied to any geographical region or political power. ISO Quality Management System per 900x is also such a domain. These domains have multiplicity of participation, and as the connections are dynamic, the domain seems virtual.


Social Domain > Chichicastenango Market Guatemala Wikipedia image by Chmouel Boudjnah en wikipedia

Convergence of Domains occurs as all types of domains coexist in a contagious, overlapping or merged environment. They derive their functional efficiency through coexistence and dependence. It is not possible to separate out atmospheric strata from one another. Similarly social domains represent areas for specific behaviour, but are not territorial. Social interactions flourish consistently in certain types of spaces depending on the number of participants, their reach to each other, the means of communication and recognition. These spaces qualitatively contrast with ‘non-social spaces’.


Issac Oliver’s allegorical painting (1590-95) Contrasting virtuous and licentious dress behaviour >> Wikipedia image

Domains also occur as an antithesis, a contrasting element, to the real or notional (virtual reality) entity. If one exists (even if notionally) the other manifests, in a kind of parallelism. Heaven contrasts with the real world, and also has an antithesis as hell. If lands are solid then skies are ethereal.


Neighbourhood as a domain >> Wikipedia image by Challengethelimits

Physical domains have well-defined edges, and so a space with supportive environment. The space is further enriched by including facilities for environmental control and amenities for conducting the tasks. The manageable space is within the limits of human cognition, inside the ambit of nominal physiological capacities, and the extendable reach capacities (through devices). Such domains become very strongly defined space for living or behavioural setting. Such domains have a centric or eccentric form, but receding power as one move away from its core, and at some point other influences diminish its power. Rulers or masters of such domains do not like such infinite receding effects, so rather create barricades or boundaries.

Berlin, III. Weltfestspiele

Stalin cult in E Berlin > Image Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-11500-0994 / Martin / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Metaphysical domains occur when there is a tacit understanding among the believers as to what acts are for or against the survival of the domain. The domain persists, depending on the number of believers or followers, and their dedication for the cause. Such influences can also be a legacy. Metaphysical domains show a receding zone of effectuality as the staunch believer or perpetrator of the cult occupy the centre. A vigorously active metaphysical domain projects an entity that is reliable, secure, predictable, proven, acceptable to many. A metaphysical domain does not require a terrain location for identity, however, participants at some stage move to a terrain-based identity, as it provides stability. In this sense the physical and the metaphysical domains converge.


Beatles cult >> Wikipedia image

For a metaphysical domain, areas distancing occur both in time and space. But it is sought to be re-strengthened, by physical means controlling the dynamism (variability) of the environment in the peripheral zones, by suitable space characteristics such as size, shape scale, the quality of barriers, illumination, sound reverberation, axis, orientation, etc. For stage performances the actors use large garments, extensive gestures and loud delivery of dialogues, so that last person becomes part of the show. The weak or receding areas of a metaphysical domain can also be strengthened by use of metaphors. The weak areas are intentionally populated by ‘hard-core’ believers, so that their confirmative behaviour is emulated by lesser believers. Political meets have ‘back seat boys’ (rabble-rousers) whose over enthusiastic behaviour arouses the mood.


Air traffic controller over an air space domain

Metaphoric domains occupy no physical estate, and so are economical and efficient. The regulations are by acceptance and realization that confirmation or participation is advantageous. In spite of the overwhelming fear that it may penetrate into privacy and intimacy domains of social life, such domains offer great scope for expression and communication. The culture of metaphoric domains is now replacing the nominal means of cognition and behavioural responses. It replaces the reality so completely that one often forgets what the reality is, was, or could be. This happens when metaphors have several layers of conversions.


Vsat at Salaga Ghana >> Wikipedia image by IICD

Domains remain primarily a territory or a space to live. Domains become metaphysical as a behavioural setting, and for responses to the environment and others (beings) it serves a metaphorical purpose. A physical domain is beset with too much political interference, a metaphysical one may not be a democratic one, but there is a selfish interest in confirmation of a metaphoric entity.


This post forms 4th of the Sixteen part of Lecture series on Behaviour in Space that I will be offering for the spring semester starting Jan 2016 (to mid April2016) at School of Interior Design, Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.