The Affect Theory and Ecology of A Avenue and Newport


It seems that humans have created things and gives them power, but things actually also have power on humans but they don’t even realize.

“The story will highlight the extent to which human being and thinghood overlap, the extent to which the us and the it slip-slide into each other.”(Fuller, 4) Fuller states that the humans should never underestimate the power of nonhuman actors. When something controls our wills, we become “nonhuman” and that thing becomes “vital player”.

The nonhuman actors are not only things but also could be environments, or atmospheres. I remember when I walked through the A avenue of East Village at 7 p.m. I found another picture of this street that is different from the daytime. The lights were shining and lighting up the whole street. Hearing jazz music from bars, I smelled tempting scent from the Italian restaurants. Buildings here were short and most of them were built half a century ago. Many walls had been occupied by plants. On the rooftops of the building I saw some people smoking. In such an environment, my five senses were amazingly moved by the atmosphere and I found myself relaxed. In another word, this place has power on me now. I was affected by this place.

For Newport in New Jersey, the place I live,it was a totally different atmosphere. Almost all of the buildings in Newport are new, full of rental apartments. Just like me, most residents here are non-whites. Indians, Chinese, and Koreans occupy large parts of the population. Moreover, residents here are mainly students and working class people who share the similar schedule. The Newport path station is a place which stands for this special community. The 9am and 6pm are the busiest time on every weekday and it’s intense. The passengers run to the station, squeeze themselves in the train like cans of sardines. With little disturbing things around, this place makes me work and study efficiently.

I am also interested in A Avenue and Newport because they have significant social precarity. “the dichotomous model of cultural industries in which ‘dominant’ cultural production (primarily corporation-driven, profited-oriented, exploitative) is positioned against its ‘alternatives’(seen, in turn, as more personally rewarding, liberating, and sometimes also subversive toward the dominant mode)” (Kember and Zylinsaka, 177) The local atmosphere, as a cultural production, forms a unique circumstance that attracts certain groups of people who share the same class, race, or wills. And then it got reshaped by those people again. Then the interactions between the people and place, form the culture, the local ecology.

The term “ecology”, according to Fuller, indicates “the massive and dynamic interrelation of processes and objects, beings and things, patterns and matter.” (Fuller,2) An ecology is a complex and dynamic system where people being part of the system continuously affect the environment subjectively, while they are also being affected objectively. According to Bennett, “the power of a body to affect other bodies includes a ‘corresponding and inseparable’ capacity to be affected” (Bennett, 21) People use power to create an environment, and this environment also have counteraction on people. For example, the accumulation of non-whites residents make them tend to speak their native language in this neighborhood. Because the residents are working class or students, there are neither bars nor entertainment facilities within this neighborhood. Thus it becomes a super quiet place which is good for study and work, and also a very boring place with no surprise. On the other hand, A Avenue in East Village may be cool and artistic for there are many live performances, but people may feel disturbed by chaos and noises that last till midnight everyday.

“Ecologists focus rather more on dynamic systems in which any one part is always multiply connected, acting by virtue of those connections, and always variable, such that it can be regarded as a pattern rather than simply as an object.” (Fuller, 4) The human and nonhuman actors are both actants that work together to form this pattern. Neither of them can be separated from the complex system of ecology. A Avenue and Newport both have their unique ecologies. And I can feel myself affected differently by them. Hopefully with the help of medias I could have a deeper understanding of the cultures generated from certain places and people.


Work Cited

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, 2010.

Fuller, Matthew. Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture. The MIT Press, 2007.

Kember, Sarah, and Joanna Zylinska. Life After New Media. The MIT Press, 2012.


~ by shereenkong on September 19, 2016.

3 Responses to “The Affect Theory and Ecology of A Avenue and Newport”

  1. Best Overall: Your blog post really stood out to me out of the collection from the class because you managed to capture my interest and inform me very well about these environments and why you want to study them. Your photos also very expertly demonstrate the atmosphere you’ve ascribed to each location.

    -Theresa S

  2. Best Learning Blog: By reading your blog, I see that you have you truly thought about your media ecology in terms of the definition of affect. You took out time to think about the who, what, where, where, why of Newport, NJ and the commute to Manhattan. I think you’re off to a great start to your project.

    – Christina (Ling) Ho

  3. Best Learning Blog: I think you had done a really good job on explaining the relationship between people and the environment, “The humans should never underestimate the power of nonhuman facts” this sentence enlightened me and made me rethink about the idea while people affects the formation of an environment, the environment also has a counter acting force.
    In addition, I like your description on the unique atmosphere of New Port. I have never been there before. But I feel I have sensed it through your post, and I want to visit it some time, if there is any chance.


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