The Duality of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

The duality of mind and body is shattered by the theory of affect. The idea that things like nature and nurture, things that we think of as having two completely different meanings, consequences, and reactions, are synthesized into a continuum of social production, not construction. This way of thinking about ideas and matter at the same time, merging them so that every position of matter, in space and time, can have a range of abstract possibilities. This means that, for example, an image can be perceived at different intensities, or levels of affect, depending on how it is presented. For example, you are being presented three images: one image is the original, one is in black and white, and the last is overly saturated. Massumi argues that each image has a different affect, level of intensity, because of the way it is presented. The black and white image is not going to have the same affect as the image that is overly saturated because the human subconscious mind processes or reads the image or situation through fragments and factors, and the impact of one factor can be altered by the other factors around it. Mussami introduces language as one of the factors that can alter our affect of an image, referring to the example of the Snowman story which had a dampened intensity when accompanied with a matter-of-factness verbal narration(25). What does this mean for my research project? It means that I need to stop thinking about visual and textual narration as two different things and think of them as factors to intensity, they work together to create affect. 

When I think of my ecology, I think of it in a dual sense: it was a landfill, it is a park. However, it never stopped being a landfill, the landfill was simply covered and the park was constructed on top. It remains a landfill but it can be park. How does this duality affect the individual and the park itself? It’s known that plants can grow faster and better if you play music for them. We know that objects can also be affected, as well as affect. So what affect do the trees that grow in soil that covers a landfill which produces leachate and methane have on the individual that visits the park? Although visually the park is just a park and people who do not know the history of Flushing will not be as affected by the knowledge of its wasteful past as those who do, people can be affected by anything and everything which means that they can still be affected by the trees, the breeze, the smell, the water, the sounds, every single thing in that park creates an entire dimension of events for the individual. If the trees are being affected negatively by the soil and water, the people that sit in that park will be affected negatively. 

In other words, the “vibe” of Flushing Meadows-Corona is trashy and wasteful. It attempts to hide or mask its past by creating an image of nature and peacefulness but, in fact, it has the opposite effect on the visitors because the landfill is still present, it is many meters underground but it is there regardless and it continues to affect the people of Flushing. If this continues to be normalized, the individual will be negatively affected because of the disconnect between real nature and man-made nature.

Léonie.

Sources:

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Cultural Critique, no. 31, 1995, pp. 23–43.

~ by ld1821 on October 12, 2019.

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