Emotions vs. Intensity and Sensory Overflow

Walking throughout Sunset Park, different areas and different scenes elicit different emotions for me. I imagine that it would be the same for most people who walk through this area. These feelings change quickly as I see a new vintage store, a trendy restaurant,  an empty waterfront park, closed down factories, and active manufacturing hubs. Sunset Park, the park, has its own diverse range of emotions due to the simplicity of the park itself, the view of Manhattan, and the different clusters of people who inhabit the park. 

After reading Brian Massumi, I understand better that these emotions, or affects, might be improperly classified in my mind. He says emergence, which he makes clear is synonymous with affect for the purpose of his essay, “is a two-sided coin: one side in the virtual (autonomy of relation) and the other side in the actual (functional limitation) (pg 35). In other words affect exists in two realms which can complicate perceptions. I need to keep in mind these differing relationships as I move forward in studying my ecology. How do I perceive things? How does my perception of things compare to reality?

For example, after seeing and hearing the actively running factory along the water at Bush Terminal Park, within the Sunset Park area, I felt sad. I was standing in an almost empty park, on a beautiful day, with views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan. It was a weird experience for me to be in a place that felt special, but had little people enjoying. For the most part it was silent at the park, except for two men kicking a soccer ball in a field at the park. Directly next to the path of the park there was an active factory.  In addition to the sounds of the men playing soccer, I could hear the sounds of some facilities in a factory which appeared from the outside to be closed down. Hearing sounds from the factory which appeared to be closed down felt very ominous to me. This factory was less than 100 yards from the field. The relationship between these two sounds and the lack of other sounds in the area made me feel sad, but after reading this piece by Massumi, I recognize that these feelings were stemmed from the intensity of the situation. On top of that, those sounds were based on my own perception of the scenario. I did not know the feelings of those involved with producing the sounds, or understand the greater context of how the sounds existed in this setting. 


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Active Factory Described

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Soccer Field at Bush Terminal Park

At the beginning of the essay Massumi discusses content and effect. The meanings that we extract from the context of the situation and how we experience a situation contribute into the intensity of the image we are receiving (pg 24). The level of intensity is seperate from emotion. Moving forward in my project, I want to be conscious of how I receive emotions or affect from particular situations as well as how I portray certain situations. It is critical that I do not assign an emotion to something when the affect is one of intensity, or of something unfamiliar which just needs to be processed. 

After talking briefly with Chung, a man who works at an active factory near where I experienced the sounds of the men playing soccer and the sounds of a lonely factory, I was able to understand and differentiate the feelings I felt and the intensity that I received from the situation. There were many factors altering my perception which I did not take into perspective of my emotions from the scene: time of day, day of the week, and the population of the area.


Map of Described Area

Massumi highlights the idea of the missing half second as a signal of a brain which is overflowing with sensory input (pg 29). This idea is essential to how I will continue to receive new experiences  in Sunset Park, and how I will portray my findings to others. I must keep in mind the effects of a mind which is “overfull, in excess of the actually-performed action and of its ascribed meaning” (pg 29).




~ by davisverg on October 12, 2019.