The cycle between individual, environment and others

tumblr_nkkk5kdfCH1qaorkvo1_1280 Walking down the street is not always easy. You shield your face from the piercing wind, your hands start to become numb if they are not glued to your pockets, you take small steps to avoid slipping on the slushy ground, but people pushing past you causes your delicate center of balance to tip over, even if it is ever so slight. And just like that, affective states are being altered, created, interlaced.

The origin of the word “affect” is from affectus in Latin, which means “passion” or “emotion”. Affects are not emotions, as Teresa Brennan tells us, as affects are the “physiological shift accompanying a judgment” (5). And this physiological phenomena is what I imagine to be a vessel, a sort of passageway for feelings to enter, that leads from the body to the outside, but that which also makes an impact on the outside (I may not be envisioning this correctly – I am not the best at analogies). Affects accompany feelings, but while feelings are immaterial, affects are “material, physiological things” that have “an energetic dimension”. To me, the use of the word “energetic” seems to connote the uncontainability of affects in the body and the need to touch (not literally) the environment it is in.

And on the crowded streets of New York, with swarms of people around you, from whom do these affects get transmitted? Is there a difference between the “strength” of transmitted affects from an open space like the streets of Union Square, versus the enclosed Grand Central Station? As I think more about my ecology and affect, it reinforces what I read in Life after New Media, that existence is “not an individual affair”, and that “time and space, matter and meaning are iteratively reconfigured through each intra-action” (Kember Zylinska 186). Each person’s movements, tone of voice, facial expression and dressing becomes critical – precisely because of the “artificiality of the distinction between the individual and the environment at the level of physical and biological exchange” (Brennan 8).

These interactions with others and the environment around you may be brief, but according to the readings, it could have an effect on your mood. Affects are registered in an imperfect fashion, and sometimes may “find thoughts that suit them” (Brennan 7) rather than the other way around. An unpleasant exchange with the barista in the morning could lead you to attribute your hostility to a colleague or a friend, and projecting it onto them.

tumblr_mv36pub5Sv1s9m1mbo1_1280(We don’t always know the cause of our feelings – “These affects come from the other, but we deny them” (Brennan 13)) 

With projection or introjection, affects are said to enhance or deplete (respectively). This is reinforced when Jeremy Gilbert explains that “joy is that which enhances the ‘powers of life’” (Kember Zylinska 179). Simply put, positive affects that enhance can energize and make you feel more powerful.

Thinking about affects is indubitably central to my media ecology, as the big question surrounding it is how the composition of people (and their behaviors) contribute to the atmosphere, vibe and pace of each of the 3 places that I will be examining. It is not just about each individual person contributing to the environment, but how the environment influences the individual’s mood, and then how affects are transmitted out. The transmission of affect does indeed seem like a vicious cycle, and I feel that it is critical for me to keep that in mind as I analyze and photograph each space.

– Rachel Tio

~ by rachel.tio on March 3, 2015.

4 Responses to “The cycle between individual, environment and others”

  1. I think that through this post, you show that you really understood affect. Describing affect theoretically in it’s own paragraph helped to convey the ideas clearly, and from all of the text available to quote, you picked clear lines that presented your arguments strongly! Quantitatively, you used enough quotes to get the idea across but also inserted your own thoughts rather than just listing huge chunks of text from the readings.
    -Rachel L

  2. I think you had the best blog post. There was a storytelling element to it, brief background information, and overall just an interesting topic. Your pictures were relevant and visually pleasing, they stuck out and made me want to read your post.


  3. The way you described affect here was the most interesting to me this week (2)! It really seems like you’re trying to grasp the concept at the same time of trying to explain it and seeing that thought process is really refreshing, I think. You incorporated a lot of quotes that make it feel like they’re in conversation with each other — and they are! And describing the tangibility of affect is so important I think, and the paragraph you wrote on that was great to read.



  4. I think this is the best post! you demonstrate very clearly what affect is and you manage to break down some the hardest ideas in Life after New Media in to comprehensible sentences. I really enjoyed reading your interpretations on the readings and the way you translate those ideas into your ecology study

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