Duality & Unity in Times Square


Times Square is the mecca of New York City. It is filled with an overwhelming amount of flashing lights, stores, restaurants, attractions and an endless amount of people. From every corner of Times Square, which only spans about ten streets, and one or two avenues there is some sort of stimuli evoking your attention, arising excitement in some and detest in others.

While the tourist in Times Square stop, stand, stare, point and walk slowly. The native New Yorker rushes through Times Square, pushes through the tourist without a care for the scenery around them. This leads me to question how can one space have two very different effects on people?


To understand Times Square’s effect on two different people, I first had to understand what affect even is and how it relates to people. In Teresa Brennan’s Transmission of Affect she delves into affect and how it isn’t an individual function amongst people. Brennan defines and describes affect under the realm of human transmission debunking the belief that we as people all think, act, react, and feel, without any outside influence. Brennan states herself that “individualism is a cultural and historical product” fostered by ones surroundings as a direct reaction to it (Brennan 2) . This helps develop the idea of transmission of affect within Times Square in which as an environment is  “responsible for bodily changes”… “In other words, the transmission of affect, if only for an instant, alters the biochemistry and neurology of the subject. The “atmosphere” or the environment literally gets into the individual”( Brennan 2). A majority of native New Yorkers before even entering Times Square are unknowingly embedded with an idea, attitude, and experience of Times Square that they use to walk within the small proximity of this New York area. While the transmission of affect of Times Square for the tourist make them unknowingly act in unison, stopping constantly to take in the excitement of the city.

While having two very different effects on the people whom go to Times Square, there is no denying the high level of excitement within that area. From the sounds to the smells, although the enjoyment and experience may be different amongst tourist and New Yorkers, Times Square does one thing to both people– it engulfs them all at once. It doesn’t matter whether that engulfment is excitement or repulsion, either way it inevitably draws you in. Jane Bennet in Vibrant Matter, describes an assemblage as an “ad hoc groupings of diverse elements, of vibrant materials of all sorts. Assemblages are living, throbbing confederations that are able to function despite the persistent energies that confound them from within” (Bennet 23). Times Square forms an assemblage of vibrancy that has the same unison affect of drawing people in. The attraction to Times Square is also its aversion.

My media ecology, Times Square is multi-dimensional in the way people feel about it and react to it. Thus I’m going to explore and juxtapose how Times Square has two different responses. I will look to how people behave in alignment to their surrounding?, why they behave as they do?, and intertwined in the two is the idea of motion.


~ by act300 on March 3, 2015.

6 Responses to “Duality & Unity in Times Square”

  1. I thought your post made the most sense of affect, especially as to how two different sets of people can host drastically different feelings toward a same site. Times Square is probably my least favorite place in NYC and I’ve definitely had some hard time dissuading people visiting me from going there. This gap in people’s response to Times Square definitely applies to the idea of affect and also how people identify themselves with strangers who feel the same way about the location.

  2. I think your post was the most evocative because you really captured how Times Square is multi-dimensional, and so different to the tourist and the native New Yorker. Upon visiting Times Square yesterday, I really understand what you mean by the tourists who act in unison, caught up by the excitement of the city, and I think you wrote this really well. The comparison to the assemblage was also very relevant. Overall, great job!

  3. I thought that you exhibited the best understanding of affect. You made a very clear and understandable connection form Times Square to the idea of affect and interconnectedness. You really exhibited how a variety of intensities and feelings can be drawn out from one individual site.

  4. Most Informative:
    I think the concept of affect was best explained through your post. You take a moment to break down what affect really was and then tie that in naturally with your own ecology project of Times Square. I also really like how informative your post is about tying in the two ideas of duality and unity along with your location of Times Square. 🙂

    –Susanna Lee–

  5. I think your post is overall the best because you not only explained the theories of affect in very clear and easy-to-understand ways, but also incorporated a really interesting way of seeing your ecology in with the theory. This, in combination with your images, made me feel like this was a very strong post and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
    -Rachel L

  6. I think you had the best overall post. Great combination of articles, ecology, affect, images… you had it all! I loved how you connected Times Square to affect in a different way than you usually read about Times Square in tourist guides and the internet 🙂

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