Conceptual Composition 15: Architecture of affect or affected architecture

by obannova

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There is no such thing as a neutral affect, it is always followed by positive or negative feelings and emotions and then actions (Feeling, Emotion, Affect by Eric Shouse).  Consequences of affect can be contiguous and unite people in an attempt to accomplish something; included are even actions and movements to destroy what caused that initial affect. Nigel Thrift talks about 4 definitions of affect:

1.       “… as a set of embodied practices that produce visible conduct as an outer lining. This translation chiefly arises out of the phenomenological tradition but also includes traces of social interactionism and hermeneutics.”

2.       “… usually associated with psychoanalytic frames and is based around a notion of drive. Often, it will follow the Freudian understanding that one physiological drive -sexuality, libido, desire -is the root source of human motivation and identity.”

3.       “… is naturalistic and hinges on adding capacities through interaction in a world which is constantly becoming. It is usually associated first of all with Spinoza and then subsequently with Deleuze’s modern ethological re-interpretation of Spinoza.”

4.       “… defined as the property of the active outcome of an encounter, takes the form of an increase or decrease in the ability of the body and mind alike to act, which can be positive and increase that ability (and thus ‘joyful’ or euphoric) or negative and diminish that ability (and thus ‘sorrowful’ or dysphoric).

Probably most people have some “feelings” what they mean by “affect” and it seems to me that it is often used as an “excuse” of taking some actions that lead to unexpected or expected but somehow  shameful consequences. “I was affected by design of this building and stepped on your toe and broke it. I’m sorry but I have a legitimate excuse, don’t I?” Similar situations happened pretty much to all of us from one or another side. It is also interesting how, although initiated by the same reason or subject, affect may transfer from being positive and giving uplift of admiration and inspiration to opposite bringing forward rejection and dismissal. Architecture as a discipline and definitely architectural objects – buildings – serve as sources of such sensational activity affecting on people who are inside and outside of them. Being affected by somebody or something is a proof of us being human that’s all it means we are neutral to what is happening around us and eventually take an action.

Readings:

  • Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seijworth ‘An Inventory of Shimmers’ in Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seijworth eds. The Affect Theory Reader, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010.
  • Nigel Thrift, ‘Spatialities of Feeling’, in Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect, London: Routledge, 2008
  • Eric Shouse, ‘Feeling, Emotion, Affect’, in Melissa Gregg, ed. ‘Affect.’ M/C Journal 8.6 (2005). 25 Nov. 2011.