Notes Towards Affect Engines


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Slides from a conference presentation using Deleuze to think about interactivity.

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Notes Towards Affect Engines

  1. 1. notes towardsaffect engines iapl july 2008 (Adrian Miles)
  2. 2. outline this is work that is developing out of a series of conference presentations and papers that are thinking about the role of Deleuze’s ‘interval’ in relation to a variety of forms of new media the interval is a zone of indetermination in relation to possible courses of action contemporary network based media forms can be theorised as systems for the production and maintenance of intervals it situates such practice within the intersection of the local and the iapl RMIT 2008
  3. 3. summary (Bergson & deleuze) iapl RMIT 2008
  4. 4. summary (Bergson & deleuze) affect is the consequence of a sensory motor schema the sensory motor schema produces the causal logic of cinematic relations in Cinema One (the movement image) these relations rely on action and reaction the interval is the extended gap that is produced between action and reaction the inability of reaction (as responsive action) to meet the demands of action produces affect as does the extension of the interval towards its own iapl RMIT 2008
  5. 5. iapl RMIT 2008
  6. 6. bergson Bergson and the ‘sensory motor schema’ it is sensory because it is about perception perception is made of up reception and reaction it is motor because some perceptions produce motor responses these can be conscious, automatic, unconscious and so on these senses provide views between things (there is a non motor sensory schema too which is all of the ways in which all things present all facets to each other) iapl RMIT 2008
  7. 7. iapl RMIT 2008
  8. 8. facets I think of these views between things as facets. As facets (think of a diamond) it is easy to understand that facets are multiple what counts as the ‘meaningful’ view for me might not be for you let alone my view of that flu virus over there and its view of me facets means that there are always many attitudes towards things, many ways in which they can, and do, address each other ‘attitudes’ does not mean interpretations, it is more basic than this — an attitude is an orientation towards possible action (interpretation is what we then understand the realised actions to mean) iapl RMIT 2008
  9. 9. iapl RMIT 2008
  10. 10. interval some actions are automatic, some are unthought, some are thought where there is a distance or gap between reception and reaction (I see the lion and turn to run) an interval is introduced this interval introduces a zone of indeterminacy because a variety of possible actions is available and a choice is required as there are always a multiplicity of facets the interval always subtracts from all those possible and actual facets to recognise only those that interest it (n-1) the interval is then the interruption of automatic action and reaction and affect is the felt but unacted movement (reaction) or the residue that remains where reaction is not adequate to iapl RMIT 2008
  11. 11. iapl RMIT 2008
  12. 12. acentred “ what happens and what can happen in this acentred universe where everything reacts on everything else? We must not introduce a different factor ... So what happens is this: at any point whatever of the plane an interval appears - a gap between action and reaction. (C1, 61.) iapl RMIT 2008
  13. 13. iapl RMIT 2008
  14. 14. remainder affect is what is left over when action (in response to perception) does not exhaust, or expend, itself when, for example, the actual action does not produce a normalised economy between perception and reaction (for instance what you would feel after fleeing the lion) the interval ‘interrupts’ the movement between reception and action and movement changes from being a quantity to a quality (affect) iapl RMIT 2008
  15. 15. movement & iapl RMIT 2008
  16. 16. movement & affect “ There is therefore a relationship between affection and movement in general which might be expressed as follows: the movement of translation is not merely interrupted in its direct propagation by an interval which allocates on the one hand the received movement, and on the other the executed movement, and which might make them in a sense incommensurable. Between the two there is affection which re-establishes the relation. But, it is precisely in affection that the movement ceases to be that of translation in order to become movement of expression, that is to say quality, simple tendency stirring up an immobile element. (C1, 66.) iapl RMIT 2008
  17. 17. movement iapl RMIT 2008
  18. 18. movement image In the cinema this indeterminacy becomes filled by the three varieties of the general ‘movement-image’ This is where you get shot, counter shot. An economy of reactions (character looks, I cut, I see what they look at), which in turn leads to an implicit grammar of action - chases, slapstick comedy, dance. Cause and effect. This is the sensory motor schema of American (and early) cinema. It aims to normalise the interval between perception and action, and to ensure that action is equivalent to perception (no loose ends, simply typologies of characters, psychology, genres and so on) iapl RMIT 2008
  19. 19. Us as movement iapl RMIT 2008
  20. 20. Us as movement image “ All things considered, movement-images divide into three sorts of images when they are related to a centre of indetermination as to a special image: perception-images, action-images and affection-images. And each one of us, the special image or the contingent centre, is nothing but an assemblage of three images, a consolidate of perception-images, action-images and affection-images. (C1, 66.) iapl RMIT 2008
  21. 21. A networked post– iapl RMIT 2008
  22. 22. A networked post–cinema a project such as VideoDefunct moves towards the deliberate production of intervals this is not the same as Deleuze’s time image because the viewer/user in systems such as VideoDefunct, by definition, participates in a sensory motor schema however in such systems (unlike the movement image) the interval is not normalised via realist, narrative or other strategies however perception and reaction is modified along two distinct iapl RMIT 2008
  23. 23. inverted pedestrian (1) iapl RMIT 2008
  24. 24. inverted pedestrian (1) iapl RMIT 2008
  25. 25. inverted pedestrian (2) iapl RMIT 2008
  26. 26. inverted pedestrian (2) iapl RMIT 2008
  27. 27. inverted pedestrian (3) iapl RMIT 2008
  28. 28. inverted pedestrian (3) iapl RMIT 2008
  29. 29. inverted pedestrian (4) iapl RMIT 2008
  30. 30. inverted pedestrian (4) iapl RMIT 2008
  31. 31. videodefunct — technical iapl RMIT 2008
  32. 32. videodefunct — technical axis traditional forms take parts and produce closed wholes this is a consequence of their material form — they are bounded objects (so many minutes, so many pages) and as they have an end they encourage teleological narrative forms VideoDefunct consists of discrete works but each is made up of discrete parts so the publication is only realised by the selection and exploration of a variety of constrained relations between these parts technically this form keeps the parts as parts and so actively produces open iapl RMIT 2008
  33. 33. videodefunct — iapl RMIT 2008
  34. 34. videodefunct — poesis VideoDefunct also creates intervals poetically through the use of the triptych and its tagging taxonomy the triptych allows for what Manovich has described as ‘spatial montage’ so that new visual relations are able to be established simultaneously between otherwise sequential shots the tags provide a combinatory mechanism for the production of relations between parts (we take it as given that projects such as this are precisely about relations between parts) by making partly visible these relations, and sharing some agency with the user, the interval is explicitly enlarged between perception and reaction the effort to understand the relations between the terms, iapl RMIT 2008
  35. 35. intervals & iapl RMIT 2008
  36. 36. intervals & affect in VideoDefunct we have a system that only ever produces intervals where the relation between perception and reaction is literal, instrumental or realist affect is minimised (for example YouTube) where the relation between perception and reaction is figurative, ludic and metaphoric affect is encouraged systems such as flickr (and even blogs) appear to be following the latter model, YouTube is currently following the first (this is one way to theorise the relation of Web 1 to Web 2), while VideoDefunct provides one way to imagine and develop a network based post cinematic iapl RMIT 2008
  37. 37. web 2 & iapl RMIT 2008
  38. 38. web 2 & affect this is currently speculation on my behalf (wtbd) however: ‣ web 2 systems appear to be about the production of affect engines ‣ they are not primarily narrative engines or systems ‣ their rules of combination are open, emergent and informal ‣ they allow for the enlargement of the interval between perception (“this is a ...”) and action (“I include this here”, “I join this to this”) they are closer to ambient media forms they are musical rather than literary or iapl RMIT 2008
  39. 39. iapl RMIT 2008
  40. 40. intersections dominant media are a media of narrativisation narrative is a centralising discourse there are numerous forms in popular and high art that are not such forms generate and provide for affect (inspite of industry’s colonisation and efforts to control these events) where affect is always local affect engines appear to treat this as their logic: global systems consisting of ‘global’ objects that always provide an interval between they are therefore non narrative systems that allow local practices (where local means individual, personal, iapl RMIT 2008
  41. 41. iapl RMIT 2008
  42. 42. references Bergson, Henri. Matter and Memory. Trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer. New York: Zone Books, 1991 Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema One: The Movement–Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986. Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema Two: The Time–Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989. Keen, Seth, Keith Deverell, and David Wolf. "Video Defunct". 2007. Online Video Blog. October 1, 2007. <>. Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press, 2001. Miles, Adrian. "Facetted Video: Crystalline Architectures." VideoVortex. Brussels: Argos, 2007. Miles, Adrian. "Pragmatic Statements For a Facetted Videography." VideoVortex Reader. Amsterdam, forthcoming. Miles, Adrian. "Virtual Actual: Hypertext as Material Writing." Studies in Material Thinking. Vol 1. No. 2. 2008. iapl RMIT 2008
  43. 43. iapl RMIT 2008
  44. 44. iapl RMIT 2008