On Affect: from Deleuze to Bergson

Hung-Han Chen
Doctor of Arts seminar at Media Lab
Thursday, Feb 26, 2015, Miestentie 3, Room 429, from 17:00-19:00

From the phenomenological point of view, the relationships between body and world are considered in various ways including perception, affection and action. Bergson(1908) suggested that affect is a motor tendency on a sensitive nerve. In addition, the affect which occupies the gap between an action and a reaction, absorbs an external action and reacts on the inside.According to the interpretation by Deleuze, affect plays a role in cinemas as the affection-image. The affection-image is one type of signs in the non-linguistic sign system of cinemas. The affection-image is designated to affect as expressed by a face or a facial equivalent.

Deleuze’s interpretation of affect in 1980s has been taken into contemporary studies on media art. His semiotic taxonomy on cinemas is essential for film philosophy, which seeks to understand the most basic questions regarding films. Manovich adopts concepts from film philosophy to offer the first systematic and rigorous theory of new media. In addition, Hansen believes that Deleuze effectively dissolves the constitutive link of affect to the body and appropriates it to the movement-image. Hansen adopts the concept of affection-image to interpret the aesthetics of interactive art.However, these studies have only investigated new understanding of Bergson’s concepts. This has led to an overemphasis of interpretation in modern paradigm. To fill this gap, with the context of Deleuze’s interpretation of Bergson, the author tries to return to Bergson’s own texts and other related studies on affect in 1900s, examines the similar or different points of attitudes toward affect between Deleuze’s interpretation, Bergson himself, and other scholars who have a close relationship with Bergson.

This article manifests the theoretical characteristics and meanings of Bergson, Deleuze and other related researches ontologies in affect.

Slides: link

Keywords: Affect theory, Bergson, Deleuze, Phenomenology

Title of my research plan: In-Between-Ness: A Practice-led Study Rooted in the Concept of Affect in Bergsonian Metaphysics

This research derives concepts from affect theories in support of art ideas centered on digital representations in New Media Art. The research subject elaborates affect concepts created by French philosopher Henri Bergson in the 1900s and explains the conjunctions between affect and medium by a series of hypothesis. The art practices concentrate on transcoding Bergsonian metaphysics’s poetic logic into rational computer code and digital representations.

Keywords: Affect, Henri Bergson, Medium, Digital Representation, New Media Art, Software Art, Internet Art.