Conceptual Composition 15

by asahelenastjerna


Conceptual Composition 15


[I have read conceptual cluster 15 together with conceptual cluster 14; New materialisms as own choice – the latter will be uploaded by Thursday]

Cities are complex bodies of constantly transforming affective connections shaping and reshaping the emotional calibration of places. Emotions and affects are not equal, but emotions always imply affects. The sense of a place, that is how we on the one hand experience a place an on the other hand on how we are producing that place in question.

I sit down on a bench with my eyes closed – In what ways does the act of listening in public space affect me? What do I produce through the act of listening?

As an artist, exploring and as well contribution to the production of public space(s), through sound and listening as my tools, affect is the very imperceptible but yet so concrete transition between virtual and actual, around which my practice revolves. If the “artwork” in itself could be regarded as a “proposal”, the affections my work give rise to is what makes the artwork alive. How the flaneurs are “touched” by my artwork. As artist, my intention is to create art that produces a difference, that is: art that changes something and someone -but without knowing what or who.

Deleuze stated that if philosophy creates concepts, art creates percepts and affects. In her chaos, territory, art Elisabeth Grosz connects to Deleuze in stating that “Art, […] does not produce concepts though it does address problems and provocations. It produces sensations, affects, intensities as its mode of addressing problems” (p. 1.) The arts produce and generate intensity, “that which directly impacts the nervous system and intensifies sensation.” According to Grosz it is affects that connect the conscious “phenomenological experience” with the non-experienceable chaos – that is according to my interpretation the immanent plane. Or as Deleuze and Guattari themselves state “For the affect is not a personal feeling, nor is it a characteristic; it is the effectuation of a power […] that throws the self into upheaval and makes it reel”. (A thousand Plateaux p.240) This goes very well with Nigel Thrifts understanding of affect, heavily influenced by Deleuze and Guattari, as a form of intelligence, a form of thinking that is, a perceptual bodily conclusion about the world, “a set of embodied practises that produce visible conduct as an outer lining”,(p. 176) – which through their non-representational character cannot be reproduced.

An understanding of art’s relation to affect is thus positioning art far beyond traditional representation, but instead as establishing nodes of interference with forces of intensities resonating beyond our conscious control, or as Grosz states: ” Art is the art of affect more than representation, a system of dynamized and impacting forces rather than a system of unique images that function under the regime of signs.”

Art is not about representing what we already know – but is instead about initiating processes beyond the conscious, embodied perceptions inviting us to not only respond but also to act. If affects is the pre-condition for the production of emotions and emotions both are produced by but also producing places, affect becomes an important drive of power in that of how cities are produced. This notion of the relation between affect and emotion has been one of the counter stones within urban sensory studies. Nigel Thrift refers in his “Spaces of Feeling” to affects as a crucial force of the production of cities that shouldn’t constantly be neglected, as knowledge of how affect operates already has become systemized knowledge; that such knowledge already is being politically deployed and last but not least; that cities could be understood through the studies of how affect operates.

A concrete example of how affect is politically-commercial appropriated is MUZAK according to my opinion. MUZAK, initially a brand, is today considered as a general term for a music genre based on instrumental arrangements, extensively being produced as background music in elevators, shopping malls, or offices, with the exclusive aim of increasing the production; that is – selling more and working better.

Contrary to a capitalistic reception of affect as something controllable I imagine art as an always foreign force, an embodied power of difference making. What is making a difference is always depending on situation, framing and time. The act of difference making is thus always situated, referring to Donna Haraway and situated knowledges. As an artist I never try to convince people of what they should feel, my practise rather concerns the different making itself.


Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari  A thousand Plateaus – Capitalism and Schizophrenia, London, Minnesota, Minnesota Press, 2009 (1987) [own choice]

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.

Elisabeth Grosz, Chaos, Territory, Art, Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth, New York, Columbia University Press, 2008 [own choice]

Eric Shouse, ‘Feeling, Emotion, Affect’, in Melissa Gregg, ed. ‘Affect.’ M/C Journal 8.6 (2005). 25 Nov. 2011.

Nigel Thrift, ‘Spatialities of Feeling’, in Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect, London: Routledge, 2008