August 8, 2011


Thrift analyses the operation and potential of bodily performed reactions. Emphasis is given to the face. ‘The living face is the most important and mysterious surface we deal with. It is the centre of our flesh. We eat, drink, breathe and talk with it, and it houses four of the five classic senses’. (Thrift, 2004: p. 72)

Especially though the work of the artist, Bill Viola, the impact of his work generates extreme emotional responses from the audience. He decomposes a set of cultural symbols and presents them through a slow motion process to understand them at work. He utilizes historically developed techniques which engage the unconscious of affect. Body movement and spatial formations compose environments through which emotion and physical shape trigger intensity. The artist engages with the face as if it was a colour wheel of emotions.

‘Through our emotion, we reach back sensually to grasp the tacit, embodied foundations of ourselves’ (Thrift, 2004: p. 67)

When one is releasing the responses of affect he becomes truly free, as by expressing our emotions and self-reflecting upon them, one develops a better understanding of himself. Confidence is further achieved by familiarising oneself with personally released responses of affect and exploiting their potential. However, Plato warns us that the exposure of emotions is not always positive, when performed unconsciously. That is because it can lead to unhealthy life patterns which can be of significant physical or mental impact, such as alcoholism. A critical balance and an effort to positively engage with the world must be maintained. By controlling the series of the body language mechanisms, one achieves to reach a profound level of communication and interaction with his environment.

Applying that understanding and knowledge into professional fields one manages to manipulate reactions and attitudes. An example is given about the way the military disciplines an army in order to be capable of controlling their operation within a battlefield. In addition, the urban space can be consciously and delicately designed to produce certain political response, often by minimal inputs. In the political field, significant political leaders have been in control of the impact of affect.

In that tone, freedom and confidence coexist in parallel, as part of being free is to be brave to release the impact of affect, projecting that energy out of the body. On the other hand, if there is a tendency for unconscious release, it can automatically lead to imprisoning yourself to habits, such as drinking. Therefore by being confident, the ability to manipulate the impacts of affect, you become free. Freedom is the controlled release of the impact of affect. The body becomes a medium where an affect from an external source filters through a body into an individual interpretation and projects a reaction out of the body releasing that energy.




Nigel Thrift, ‘Intensities of Feeling: Towards a Spatial Politics of Affect, in Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, Volume 86, Issue 1, March 2004, pp. 57–78

Andreas Sivitos


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