Affect, clarity and blurryness

November 22, 2018

Task 5


Affect and affection has been widely discussed in the philosophical discourse and it is also entering the architectural discurs with texts like Kissing Architecture from Sylvia Lavin or  Neoliberalism and Affect: Architecture and the Patterning of Experience from Douglas Spencer. Everyone seems to have a bit of a different opinion about affect and what it actually is. But the wider consensus seems to be that it is something that hits you before you actually know what it is or how to name it. Douglas Spencer here draws from Deleuze and his definition of affect which is the emotional response to a thing. Affect in Deleuzes case can be independent from the person or the thing, it lays somewhere in between. I lays in the relation between objects.
Sarah Ahmed in her text happy Objects goes a bit further. She describes happiness as a happening, something that involves you. And then goes to the notion that to be happy you need to be affected by something. She sustains this by also taking up the notion of intimacy, that happiness puts us into intimate contact with thins. And this can be attached to the thing or to the person.

I find this Idea of affect and happiness a bit hard to comprehend. But I am Trying to comprehend it in the way how my glasses help me see. I will never forget the first time I saw clearly. Until then I thought the world just was slightly blurry. But the first time i put on glasses it all became clear and sharp. It affected me in a way I couldn’t imagine before and changed my perception completely. But when they are just laying on the ground, this  whole experience is not happening, it affects me only if it’s actually on my nose and I can see through it. So affect is only established in the connection between my eye and the glass. It is also not happening if someone else looks through it, since it is highly personalised. This intimate contact with this object in turn make my life easier and me therefore so much happier, which draws the ark back to Sarah Ahmed.

Task 5
Michaela Ulmann


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