Demolishment- Break Through on Emotions

The picture depicts the future of apartments in Harlem; another building becoming renovated by the aggressive housing project by mayor Bill De Blasio. The destruction of old historical and memorable buildings is becoming more common. Many building residents are oblivious that they are in the beginning stages of the new development program. The forceful eviction politics created to target Harlem residents who identify as Black or Hispanic have become a ubiquitous thread throughout the city, an image such as this illuminates the affect of the political injustices Harlem faces. How people perceive these images and how people perceive politics alters perception and the community.

In the Autonomy of Affect by Brian Massumi, she argues the role of affect in images and information she states that affect is “is their point of emergence, in their actual specificity, and it is their vanishing point, in singularity, in their virtual coexistence and interconnection that critically points shading ever image/expression event” (Massumi 33). How images are received becomes a biological transformation within the brain that creates a different sequence of ignition for sensory motors. Of these sensory motors, emotion, becomes a triggered response with the level of intensity within the image/concept. She states that “It is like a temporal sink, a hole in time, as we conceive of it and narrative it. It is not exactly passivity, because it is filled motion, vibratory motion, resonation” (Massumi 26). The intensity of the image creates a new connection where there is normally a separation between ideas and feelings. How people of Harlem view the abundance of posters and announcements of newly demolished buildings creates a collective but unique sensation that wasn’t present before the implementation of these projects.

Emotion becomes intertwined with the concept of how affect creates a new emotion of receiving and resonating with an event/idea. As the measurement of intensity becomes defined the emotion is qualified.

When we view the information, we adopt a new sense of emotion that alters our perception of what we see and how we feel.  When Harlem residents walk past these constant displays of evictions through signs, images, videos, etc. they develop a new reflective state that subconsciously creates a new abstraction that transforms their sensory node into a different one. Massumi argues the point that when we have a “conscious reflection is the doubling over of this dynamic abstraction on itself. The order of connection of such dynamic abstraction on itself. The order of connection of such dynamic abstractions among themselves on a level specific to them is called mind” (Massumi 33).  The reflection that Harlem resides experience creates an underlying change of cognition of feelings. These feelings can consist of depression, fear, and doubt.

Political Emotional Destruction


As we examine the image we become more attentive to detail on the full message of what it is explaining. In the context of forceful eviction in Harlem, many political agendas are outlined in reshaping the community. Massumi uses the example of the Clinton administration and how the emotions that the citizens expressed about the administration changed and fluctuated the economy. She then states that “the ability of affect to product economic effect more swiftly and surely than economics itself means that affect is a real condition, an intrinsic variable of the late capitalist storm, as infrastructural as a factory” (Massumi 45). We examine the possibilities of the political institution’s affect on a mass population of citizens. The citizens who walk on the street of Harlem reflect on the new evolution of luxury building in their neighborhood, and the mayor’s constant signature on the bottom of each developing building which creates a collective affect on the community. Political institution’s wrongful behavior towards everyday citizens reflects the role they carry within their neighborhood. Many businesses have changed due to the new development of luxury buildings. There has been a change in the dynamic between the people which is causing the smaller businesses to lose money, which alters the flow of money within the community.

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Cultural Critique, no. 31, 1995, p. 83., doi:10.2307/1354446.

By: De’yon Smith

~ by deyonsmith on October 6, 2019.

2 Responses to “Demolishment- Break Through on Emotions”

  1. This was the best in show. I found your use of actual images of images revealing and intuitive to the overall understanding of our most recent reading that many people had troubles with it seemed! Me included

  2. Most engaging: I felt transported to your site and precarity thanks to your complimentary photos and contextualization of the citizens of Harlem and the politics of renovation projects. It’s a great example of an image-expression event.

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