Exuberant Surroundings and Impersonal Affect

As I was taking pictures of buildings and staring at the various signs on Korea Way, a truck driver came into my angle at one point and posed for me in his front-seat, and an elderly lady stared at me quite indifferently as if I am one of those tourists excited and curious about the place being for the first time. Though I have been living in the States for a while, I realized I still “look” like a foreigner, perhaps, due to my outfits, digital camera, hairstyle, or some kind of distinct feature of myself. However, when I am on the Broadway near school, sometimes I am asked by tourists for direction, which implies that I also have some kind of look, attitude, or mood that is easily translatable to my near environment.

The mere fact that I was on the Korea Way enabled others, whom I haven’t met before, to view, recognize, or objectify me as a foreigner, while being on a street near school gave me the impression of a student or a resident. It seems to resonate with Brennen’s point that an individual is not “self-contained,” for I will continuously encounter this “transmission of affect,” originated not only from people but also from my physical surroundings themselves. “The environment literally gets into the individual” (1). I think it is plausible because, when I am in K-town with the smell of my food and hearing Korean more often, I think about memories related with my family and friends in Korea but not so much when I am near school. The sensory, imaginative, and linguistic elements that I pick up from my surroundings seem to evoke my thoughts and activity.


These sources of affects that I perceive from the surroundings seem to be one of the factors that makes the site Korea Way be unique from other nearby places: the food, Korean language, old-fashioned neon signs, tiled roofs of an abandoned store, competition between local and foreign companies, shops and cafes lining the street, numerous signs on the side of the buildings, etc. These “impersonal affects” that are “intrinsic to forms that cannot be imagined (even ideally) as persons” create the atmosphere that is all unique, similar, and different than its surroundings as well as that of Korea that I recall. The continuous competition, modification, acculturation, and hybridization is what I can observe on this small street in the city as a vital force, almost like a living organism that has the past and the presence marked in its “forms” or the ways it is experienced.


~ by Cindy on March 3, 2015.

4 Responses to “Exuberant Surroundings and Impersonal Affect”

  1. I thought this was the best post mostly because it was the most evocative for me, not just because I am doing my project on the same site. Your observations were easily relatable as well as insightful in its approach to focusing on people (mostly in the beginning) rather the place itself, which was where most of my attention was directed towards. I also do believe my sensations experiencing something I would back home, such as language, people, food and vibes to name a few, definitely creates a sort of bias and this idea was well captured in your blog post.

  2. I think that your post was the best. I love how you actually immersed yourself within your ecology and expounded upon how others in our environment possibly perceived you in comparison to the reality of you within the situation. You also incorporated affect in a sense that all of these feelings create a sort of vibe and ambiance.

  3. Best post:
    I think your post was the best post because it was immediately engaging when you started with your personal anecdote. And although it was personal, it was a story that could be very relatable. Moreover after your own experience, the transition to affect about your ecology seemed very natural and informative as well. 🙂

    –Susanna Lee–

  4. I think your post was the best post because it physically took me into your ecology site while simultaneously discussing “affect”. I think most people have experienced feeling or thinking that they look like a tourist and on the other hand looking like a native and being asked for directions. Your post was very relatable.

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