The Autonomy of Brownsville

•October 13, 2019 • Leave a Comment

The cars on the road zoom past, playing music aloud. The street art continues to shine beneath the heat of the summer sun. Brownsville is more than statistics and selective statements: it is sights and sounds and senses that interact in complex ways to create a multitude of affects.

In his essay, “The Autonomy of Affect,” Brian Massumi explains that “affect is synesthetic, implying a participation of the senses in each other” (35). This means that no singular sense can provide a good conception of Brownsville: the music defines it just as much as the art and the buildings. But this also means that the sight becomes sound and the sound becomes sight. For example, this art work may only be considered visual but subconsciously, one can hear this picture of an adult—most likely a father—helping a child in planting a tree: the voice of the father and child speaking to each other, the gentle sound of their hands gathering the soil, and the sound of the leaves rustling mildly in the wind.

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This artwork could also be reflective of the values of Brownsville: their value for preserving the environment and for being actively involved in making their neighborhood look beautiful. It may also reflect an importance of family and community in Brownsville, but it is true that this artwork in itself has the potential to create numerous affects such as empathy or apathy: one may walk past the artwork, only taking it for a “half second” (Massumi 28) or one may be moved by it or stop to examine it. Notably, however, these affects are distinct from emotions, because they “follow different logics and pertain to different orders” (Massumi 27). There is a complexity to affect: there is no “straightforward way” that we can connect “content and affect” (Massumi 24): the poverty of Brownsville does not necessarily create dullness and sorrow; it can also create spirit and hopefulness.

Very importantly, the poverty of Brownsville importantly points towards the historical and systemic context within which it is situated.

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An observation of Pitkin Avenue helps with developing this understanding greatly: a quick look at it reveals a wealth and infrastructural disparity when comparing Brownsville to the rest of New York: the cracking paint, the seeping walls. At the same time, it continues to be vibrant and colorful, cars and shops playing music aloud. But Brownsville’s poor infrastructure and vibrance, such as “passivity and activity …. could be seen not as binary oppositions or contradictions, but as resonating levels” (33). Affect theory allows us to see the passivity of the activity–the liveliness, the people frequenting shops–as well as the passivity–continued economic and social disparity–in Brownsville. This approach then allows for a deeper perspective into the affect of Brownsville instead of imposing a singular narrative of either dreary doom or rose-tinted beauty upon the neighborhood.

-Sania

Works Cited

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Cultural Critique, no. 31, 1995, pp. 83–109.

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The Autonomy of ALL Affects in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

•October 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Every week since I started my ecology project, I have been determined to explore the non-gentrified areas of Bedford-Stuyvesant and gain more insight on the linkage between the gentrification within the area and precarious issue of food insecurity. Every time I walk out of the Ralph Avenue subway station, sadness is elicited from me as my eyes navigate my surroundings. When I see homeless individuals beg each passerby for food or money, impoverished people lining up with battered shopping carts in front of the BedStuy Campaign Against Hunger, or wasteful scraps of food being thrown on the ground, those images instill negative emotions within me. However, this week, I decided to also explore the gentified regions of Bed-Stuy in order to analyze how my emotions would operate in a different setting within the region. As I walked throughout the area and passed “hip” restaurants and people posing with loud, coordinated outfits, all the positive energy that surrounded me surprisingly made me depressed. I certainly expected to elicit positive affects due to being around an exuberant environment and its people, but it was the exact opposite for me. I expected the connection to positive affects = positive environment + positive people after deeply analyzing and understanding Teresa Brennan’s concept of affects, but I didn’t feel this connection. What caused me to feel depressed when I was met with positive affects all around me?

A “hip” brunch restaurant situated in between various delis, markets, and bodegas

When I was reading “The Autonomy of Affects” by Brian Massumi, I realized that an important mistake that I made in my approach to analyzing the different areas of Bed-Stuy was equating my emotions with affects. Massumi first cites the physiological experiment involving the snowman film in order to distinguish emotions from affects. In relation to image reception, he connects the content and effect by stating, “the content of the image is its indexing to conventional meanings in an intersubjective context, its sociolinguistic qualification” (Massumi 24). In other words, when we view the content of an image, we contribute a certain kind of qualification by examining the qualities of an image in order to understand its intended meaning. However, Massumi defines a phenomenon known as the “primacy of affective,” where we are hit with an unexpected intensity that causes a reaction to our stimuli before we evaluate and analyze an image (Massumi 24). Instead of assigning emotions and meaning towards an image once we view it, we are immediately struck with the intensity of affects that depends on the situation. 

Mural commemorating the life of a young adult plastered on the wall of a neighborhood market

By equalizing affects with emotions, we are unable to absorb the intensity of image that we are faced with. Massumi mentions that it is incorrect to categorize emotions on the same level with affects by saying, “Affect is most often used loosely as a synonym for emotion” where “an emotion is qualified intensity” and affect is pure intensity (Massumi 28-29). If we attempt to index the meaning of what we see, we are struck with qualified, or calculated, intensity. We are only able to absorb unconventional and true intensity if we don’t attempt to analyze the meaning of what we see beforehand. Massumi strongly emphasizes that emotion “is intensity owned and recognized” while the affects are “not ownable or recognizable” (Massumi 28). Emotions and affects are not tied together. Rather, affects are dispersed throughout individuals and their environment and in order to truly understand them, we have to ignore preconceived ideas with regards to what we see. 

“The autonomy of affect is to participate in the virtual. Its autonomy is its openness. Affect is autonomous to the degree to which it escapes confinement in the particular body whose vitality, or potential for interaction, it is.” (Massumi 33)

I came into this project attempting to showcase Brennan’s principles of affects that are transmitted throughout Bed-Stuy. However, I only focused my attention towards the negative affects elicited from individuals and their environment instead of capturing ALL affects that are true and authentic. In Massumi’s language, I must accept that affects are autonomous within an environment rather than attempt to capture affects that have certain context and meaning that enthralls me. Every entity possess a certain kind of emotional energy or affect, and as I walk through Bed-Stuy, it’s quintessential to absorb all the affects in order to better my research. I must not develop ideas beforehand of what I want to capture, but rather be willing to allow ideas from the environment and its people to come to me. 

Works Cited

  • Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables of the Virtual. Duke University Press, 2002.

Qualified Intensity

•October 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

“Paradox” is probably one of the best words to explain humanity, nature, and life in general. Our universe and planet appear thanks to the Big Bang, which was totally chaotic in its nature, but gave rise to well-structured organisms whose processes always seek to reach a perfect balance. Our cities are filled with thousands of different people, cultures, and customs, but we do everything to constrain them with organized infrastructure and social norms. We are surrounded by hundreds of unique objects and phenomena, and constantly try to structuralize our experience with language and words. All these actions can be explained by, but at the same time are a part of something that is called an “affect”.

In his article “The Autonomy of Affect” Brian Massumi refers to this power as an “intensity”. He claims that it exists in the “gap between content and effect”, and rather exists in virtual reality (24). In his opinion, it is always a paradox, which connects things that are usually perceived to be totally separate into a whole, and thus the reception of it is often very contradictory to what is believed to be normal.

Sunset Park itself seems to be the embodiment of this idea of constant contradiction, and you can feel these intensities on totally different levels: from overall impression to peculiar particularities. During this visit I had a clear plan – I decided to go to Maimonides Medical Center to see what options people have when they need to leave this facility. I walked around, noticed some bus stops, even access a ride one, and was about to leave this place, when I noticed a sofa standing next to a garbage tank and a car parked next to them, and suddenly felt sorrow. Many may not understand why I experienced this, but this only proves that intensity is not bound to content. Seeing all these objects together, at that particular moment of time made me experience this feeling, even though their connotations in real world have nothing to do with it. But that particular effect could be equated to sorrow. This was just my “qualified intensity” that occurred in me when I encountered these bodies (28).

The “hows” and “whys” of experience are not universal. This particularity made me think about the differences between those who can get into the car any minute and leave, and those who can only patiently wait. This paradox produced it in me. However, it does not mean that this intensity is experienced by everyone in the same way. Affects act on almost an infinite amount of levels such as volition and cognition, expectation and suspense, past and future, and ,hence, have an ability to produce totally different “activities of the mind” in different people (32). For instance, there was a large group of people standing just across the road to me. I saw some of them turning around and looking at the sofa and car long enough for this almost instantaneous autonomous intensity to reach them. I expected them to be preoccupied, worried, just how as I thought they would feel when remembering about the absence of accessible subway. However, I didn’t see any change on their faces, it was like they didn’t notice anything. Maybe due to the fact that they were speaking, that their attention was concentrated on each other, or because they did not have the same view on this “composition” as I did, but the same intensity that affected me so deeply did not seem to have any affect on any levels for them. They did not see Sunset Park through the same prism as I did that day, and there is no way I could find out what they felt.

However, intensities do not limit to particularities, but rather have an ability to affect global flows such as economics, politics, and infrastructure. New paradoxes exert their energies, producing new effects within these bodies. In the same way, affects created in Sunset Park have changed its destiny. As Massumi discusses, no matter how weird it may sound, “power is in interruption” (40). When you travel through the neighborhood, very often calm residential streets with parked prams and wheelchairs alternate with very vibrant, full of families with small children, which flow into peaceful roads again. This contrast creates almost physical, but still imaginary “vibrations” – a product of intensity, which makes it so unique. This energy is so powerful, that I believe it can influence processes that happen around it. And even though the voices of the residents demanding accessible transportation might not always be heard, maybe the affect this neighborhood exerts will serve as the best advocate.

Works cited:

-Sofia

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables of the Virtual. Duke University Press, 2002.

Affective Other Journeys

•October 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Dear reader, let me take you on a walk through Northern Harlem. We get off on the 135th Street stop of the 3 train and get up to a street. It is beautiful outside, so we decide to walk a couple of blocks passing by the 19th century blocks, wide streets and a newly-built high school. We enjoy a quiet and tranquil atmosphere of the neighborhood, stop by a big grocery store to grab food and finally reach our destination, a big apartment building on the 147th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. Just before we enter the courtyard, we say hi to a local assemblyman Al Taylor whose office is located inside the building. Before we even know it, “half a second earlier” like Brian Massumi writes in The Autonomy of Affect, we are filled with positive qualified intensity; we do not feel it on an emotional level, but our body is aware of it (Massumi 28, 29).

Another time we are coming back late in the night so we get off at a closer stop, 145th Street which is just a couple of blocks away from our destination. We take a nice stroll past a playground, the Mother Clara Hale bus depot and maybe even stop by the Harlem River. This time, the intensity of an outside environment is impeded by a smell of garbage on the 147th Street and annoyingly shaped pavement we are walking on – so the affect changes and we try to get home as soon as possible.

The other time we intentionally decide to take the 1 train to get on the other side of Manhattan instead, the area of Harlem that is closer to the Hudson River. We get off at the 137th Street City College station and it is absolutely beautiful. We walk through the campus, quickly cross a street full of traffic to reach one of the most tranquil and affect-full places in the area, St. Nicholas Park. It is quiet yet vibrant, and after spending some time there we get out on the other side, just a couple blocks away from where we live. It is the end of a workday on Thursday, so the neighborhood is uncharacteristically full of people rushing places.

Now, reader, let me take you on an entirely different journey. We get off at the 135th Street, but we have to spend an extra 5 minutes in this hot and therefore smelly station because we are waiting for an elevator. The elevator comes but it is hot and smelly too, and no matter how many times we have complained, nobody has cleaned or repaired it so that it comes faster. Why do we get off on the stop that is 12 blocks away from our destination, you might ask? Well, this is the only station in the immediate area where there is an elevator at all, so now be prepared for a treat: 30 minutes of waiting for our bus to come. We get on a bus but we have to confront a driver for not leaning the bus even though he is obliged to do so by law. When we finally reach our stop, we find Al Taylor’s office closed. We get understandably angry because we were hoping to file a complaint with him about bus drivers in the neighborhood. Across the road, we see his political campaign for reelection. We hope to see that happen, actually. Despite all the negative affect we are charged with when we have to move through the neighborhood simply to reach our own home, he is able to get some work in the neighborhood done and creates a positive mindset in the area by being outside of his office all day long talking to the residents and giving instructions to local police officers. With the lack of pre-determined morale, or if you want, ideology, he becomes an affective center of the area (Massumi 44).

By the way, we have just successfully completed the journey with our friend Cynthia who is recovering from a foot injury and is therefore forced to significantly alter her way of life.

Another time we get off at the 145th Street Station and we feel disenchanted right away. We are not supposed to be using the station anyway but we cannot help it because it is too late and buses are not running anymore. We fight our way up the staircase that is too steep and has been deemed completely inaccessible. A beautiful mural on the building of the Mother Clara Hale bus depot gives us “chills” – bodily affect Massumi discusses in his work in detail – but then, when connected to our emotional feedback, it is layered with another level of affect. It is full of remorse at how buses function in the city; for example, a bus in Lower Manhattan did not come so we did not get on the 3 train on time to hop on a local Harlem bus afterwards. But none of this matters now as we have to brave our way through the 147th street that is swarmed with affects that fill our bodies. Every single pavement crack is there to remind us that surrounding ecology is unsafe for us, and we can trip over the second we lose our attention. This road is independent of our perception but it gets transformed with our experience and fear (Massumi 38). Talking about attention – as if the journey was not hard enough for us already, our brain gets infiltrated with the sounds of an NYPD floodlight. Presumably there to scare drug dealers away, it creates a living hell for anyone with the sound sensitivity as this ultrasound is extremely affective.

Not quite as successfully, we have managed to get home with our friend Christina who has been battling her invisible disability for decades.

Do we ever get off at the 137th Street Station? I am not so sure. But let us try since it has some of the best affects out there. City College tries to simplify our task with all the ramps and accessible entrances and exits but we still struggle through its premises as most of them were put there simply to fit the government-provided requirements. Many ramps are closed for repairs and were not really constructed to get us from start to finish. There is literally no way for us to get into a highly-praised St. Nicholas Park as it has at least a 100 of stairs running through it. Not to worry though – we have ordered an Access-A-Ride 2 days beforehand and there is a stop by the College. It comes 40 minutes late so we get to our destination, the Elementary School on the Western side of the neighborhood, late.

However, we still have helped our friend Carlos who has been bound to a wheelchair for 5 years to come to pick his daughter up from school.

 

What I am getting here at is how different all the affects that body does (or does not) go through are. Per Massumi’s theory, intensity is primary to emotion and is asocial (24, 30). Therefore, affects of beautiful nature, vibrancy of human interactions on the street or a positive morale a local assemblyman brings with his direct action as well as charisma do not go anywhere when our journey interacts with various assemblages of immobility scattered around visible and invisible parts of Harlem (Bennett 4). However, just as words or effects can be layered on images of a snowman or a speaking politician, I believe that my example illustrates that it extends to the plain of reality itself (23-24, 44). Consisting of one affect layered on top of the other, it generates positive, negative or complex intensities. I think that the best way to think about this is a physical theory of constructive and destructive interferences of waves – something I want to further explore in my further theory-making process.

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Illustration to the concept of affects Massumi writes about and I illustrate with my examples.

— By Sasha

Works Cited:

  1. Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, 2010.
  2. Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables of the Virtual. Duke University Press, 2002.
  3. “Does Interference Take Place Only In Waves Parallel To Each Other?”. Physics Stack Exchange, 2019, https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/107286/does-interference-take-place-only-in-waves-parallel-to-each-other.

Looking at Graniteville through Massumi’s lens

•October 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Take a look at the four images above.

Try to rate which one you find more pleasant/unpleasant and happy/sad.

While looking at the right column, your eyes are drawn to the shortcomings of the landscape; the destruction and disorder of the natural state.

Aren’t you just wishing that the images on the right could resemble those on the left in terms of the peaceful and stable scenery?

Aren’t you just wishing that this manmade destruction could revert back to its original state?

Looking at them from Massumi’s lens, the sad one is going to leave a long-lasting impression. During his study, he was able to emphasize the “primacy of affective in image reception” (Massumi, 24)  

        Massumi’s reading made me realize that people remember situations that are unpleasant or contain a bad experience more than pleasant situations. The strength of an image and duration is not affected simply by its content but by its effect on humans (as in increased breathing or increased heartbeats). During the snowman experiment, the children found the factual version less interesting as it reflected expectations. However, the emotional version diverted from the objective format and enhanced the effects of the image, making it more favorable. The understanding of the affect in Massumi is linked to another key term in his research: the virtual. He defines affect as “the critical point shadowing every image/expression-event” (Massumi, 33).   The virtual is linked to the human perception of external stimuli, this occurs on at least two levels, the form/content and the intensity/effect. The form/content is what is presented and the intensity/effect is how intense is the information and whether it leaves a lasting effect. As he says, “The strength or duration of an image’s effect is not logically connected to the content in any way” (Massumi, 24).

        The example of Ronald Regan perfectly illustrates the Affect Theory.  Although Ronald Reagan neither had the intellect nor the grammar, fluidity, or logical content of a great speaker, but his body language and the timbre of his voice were affective. He was able to “politicize the power of mime”. The double-dysfunction and jerky movement confused the public and also allowed for individuals to take specific meaning from his speeches. They were vague enough to allow the audience to imagine what they thought Reagan was trying to convey to them.  The reaches of affect are far and wide. This proves that the media uses the affect theory to have maximum effect on people’s reaction to social, economic or political issues. The way a report is structured and broadcasted leaves either a lasting impression or no impression at all.

        My ecology and precarity has to be presented in a way that would impact the viewers. The way the video is going to be shot, the voiceover of the local speaking and the images have to be presented in the most effective way in order to convey the plea of the residents of Graniteville and to make use of the affect theory. As they say “A picture is worth a thousand words”, the fact that a picture conveys a message more effectively than the written word is well known as the human brain which is the main processor reacts well to images.

My reporting should not be strictly factual as it should attract interest and in turn, be memorable. The emotions of the residents have to be conveyed in a way which shows that real estate developers are putting the site, and locals who benefit from it at risk. Since emotion moves people, the webpage I am going to create has to be sympathetic to the locals. I want a local resident to share her story about how this ecosystem saved her home from Hurricane Sandy. I want to emphasize the point that it provides a crucial physiological function to locals, by acting as a natural buffer to floods from storms and rising sea levels besides the important fact that the swamp had for generations been the home for several species of plants and animals some of which are moving towards extinction due to human overdevelopment that continue unabated and with disregard to the importance of preserving natural life.

I want to create a website to garner awareness, in hopes that there will be enough local support to derail the proposed developments, and to allow the developers to recognize the consequences of said propositions.

-Celine Seifi

Text Cited:

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables of the Virtual. Duke University Press, 2002. 

The way our bodies connect to our feelings: A story of affect

•October 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Hunts Point has intensity — lots of it — but it depends on the narrative you give it that defines its nature.

Brian Massumi begins his analysis of affect, or “intensity” with an example: one video of a man building a snowman is turned into three distinct versions. The first version is the original, with no audio or effects. The second version describes the video in a purely factual manner. The third version adds an emotional component to the second version. This video was originally selected for research when parents reported that their children were frightened by the video, which played in between certain German television programs. When people were shown the three videos in the experiment, they reacted with the most pleasure to the factual version, but their skin response (the body’s pleasure indicator) were the highest for the emotional version. Since this version was supposed to be sad, the researchers were shocked that children could derive pleasure from negative emotions.

Massumi argues that the connections between emotions like happiness and sadness are just narratives we create about affect, the body’s unconscious, physical response to stimulation. The reason why happiness and sadness read similarly in terms of physicality is because affect is defined by levels of intensity, but not the nature of that intensity in itself. Therefore, negative emotional responses carry the potential to be produce more pleasurable affects than positive emotional responses, given their strength exceeds its competition.

While walking around an industrial section of Hunts Point, I noticed some trash on the side of the road: a Mc Donald’s cup, Arizona Ice Tea cans, and empty bottles of alcohol. If these objects have energy, then they must be able to communicate affect, I thought (Bennett). In media, the distinctions between emotional, factual, and contextual can be minimal, so I wanted to replicate the experiment from The Autonomy of Affect. By editing one photo to convey different emotions, I was able to deconstruct the way affect “vaguely but insistently connects what is normally indexed as separate. When asked to signify itself, it can only do so in a paradox”(Massumi, 25). In this way, affects are shown to be autonomous: they act on their own accord, and emotion is merely a narrative we create to explain the way affect makes us feel. 

The Original
Edited to Bring Out the Image’s Basic Qualities
By adding a narrative, the purpose of the photo changes

I think about some of the struggles people face every day in Hunts Point: poverty, addiction, and systemic inequality. These are not positive things, but if they make us feel bad, in some paradoxical way — can they also give us pleasure through intensity? Perhaps. Why do people get into drugs when they know they can ruin your life? Maybe they think nothing can happen to them, that they’re not the type of people to get addicted to something. Maybe they’re drawn in by the intensity of users: their suffering, and the way drugs numb and create everything you hate. When I found Chris Arnade’s “Faces of Addiction”, I scrolled through every image, reading every story, mesmerized by the stories (Arnade). And these stories were not happy: they detail people living on the street, battling addiction, and hoping for more. I found myself hoping with them.

When we go to the grocery store, we pick out unhealthy food because it tastes good, even if it’s not good for our bodies — and it makes us feel good too. When we go to the grocery store, and there are no fresh vegetables (I have not found a single fresh vegetable on any fruit stand, supermarket, or bodega)  over time, we get addicted to the pleasure and the pain that junk food provides. And no matter what way you frame it: that we do it because it feels good, or that it’s the only option available — the intensity is the same. It drives us unconsciously into ruin, in an endless pursuit of eternal pleasure.

Catherine Benge

Works Cited:

  1. Arnade, Chris. “Faces of Addiction”, Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/arnade/sets/72157627894114489/.
  2. Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter, U.S.A: Duke University Press, 2010.
  3. Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables of the Virtual. Duke University Press, 2002.

Exploring Affect and Its Resonances

•October 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

When I attempt to capture images in Sheepshead Bay, I find myself caught between a variety of different narratives I could choose to tell. How do I want to portray this place? Do I want to capture the bustling seafront restaurant, or the vacant corner lot under demolition? Do I capture the charm of the old bungalow, or train my lens only on its hints of rot and decay? The person holding the camera wields the power to build a sort of “truth.” These images speak volumes and it is important to be conscious of the stories they tell. 

In “The Autonomy of Affect,” Brian Massumi writes, “The strength or duration of an image’s effect is not logically connected to the content in any straightforward way,” and that, “this strength or duration of the image’s effect could be called its intensity” (Massumi 24). From this, it initially seems like the intensity of an image means something along the lines of how it makes the viewer feel. But it gets a little more complicated than this.

Mural, October 2019.

Massumi goes on to say that intensity is “associated with nonlinear processes: resonation and feedback that momentarily suspend the linear progress of the narrative present from past to future” (Massumi 26). He equates intensity to affect, writing, “Affect is most often loosely used as a synonym for emotion. But one of the clearest lessons of this first story is that emotion and affect—if affect is intensity—follow different logics and pertain to different orders” (Massumi 27). Rather, affect/intensity does not simply describe the phenomenon of a certain image being “sad,” “upsetting,” or “happy.” The difference is that, while emotion is “intensity owned and recognized,” affect “is not ownable or recognizable” (Massumi 28). Massumi defines affect as the “critical point shadowing every image/expression event” (Massumi 33). Affect is not just the emotions captured in the image, and it is not tied to the image’s content. It is something that exists in the event of the image’s capture, and is found in how the different forces creating the scene and image resonate and reverberate off of each other. 

Mural and a man, October 2019.

Of affect, Massumi writes, “its autonomy is its openness” (Massumi 35). This recalled for me an earlier line in the text that I had marked: “Stimulation turns inward, is folded into the body, except that there is no inside for it to be in, because the body is radically open, absorbing impulses quicker than they can be perceived, and because the entire vibratory event is unconscious, out of mind” (Massumi 29). This idea of openness between different entities is deeply fascinating to me. The idea that every entity has a certain energy, and that these energies are dispersed throughout the environment and reverberate off of each other to build something like affect, feels at once baffling and obvious. 

I found it interesting that Massumi often refers to things traditionally considered to be binaries: “mind and body,” “past and future,” “action and reaction,” “happiness and sadness,” and “passivity and activity” (Massumi 33). When I am thinking about Sheepshead Bay and making media in the space, I find I am often drawn to ideas of binaries. I titled my last blog post “ruin and resilience.” There are development and decay existing next door to each other. There is the comfort of the small neighborhood feel opposed by the danger of climate change. There is the beauty of the sea opposed by the threat of a hurricane. However, Massumi writes that these are not binaries, but “resonating levels.” Therefore, they are not as simple and singular as they seem, and can play off each other to deepen affect. Going forward, I will try to perceive my space less through binaries and more through resonance and reverberations of affect that pervade the space. 

Front doors, October 2019.

–Taylor Stout

Works Cited:

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables of the Virtual. Duke University Press, 2002.