Page 1

Great Expecta ons Sandra Kopljar

contents introduc on...2 the theory tool box...4 great expecta ons...6 great expecta ons II...8 great expecta ons III...12 great expecta ons IV, affect...16 great expecta ons V, affect...20


introduc on On what grounds do architects and planners make design decisions, and how do they delimit what to take into account in the design process? In previous work with students I have begun to investigate the options for affordance1 in a design process. Without having come to any conclusive result some tendencies are worth mentioning. When I have asked design students to register affordance on site and take record of their individual response to the same affordances, it appears that already made investments (monetary or other) have significant influence on the design process in terms of what design options seem plausible at that particular time. Apparent investment in terms of buildings or infrastructure paired with a strong program appear to make any extensive change, in terms of deviation from the overall program, feel “impossible” and prevent perception of action possibility2 regarding alternative designs. The attitude to the established programs on these sites was in some cases to instead improve the situation and respect the already constructed, without making any profound changes to the program. Consequently, the imagined possibilities for an area predominantly green, perceived as natural (i.e. not as obviously invested in and fixed) appeared to be freer; in these cases new functions were added and the existing program was not as respected. My area of interest, the Brunnshög area on the outskirts of Lund, has until recently consisted mostly of farmland. It holds, by many stakeholders, an imagined future of high technology and research facilities associated with a global research community. The formulated vision for the future is in its form, character and function distant from the present situation and a relation between the two situations seems vague and difficult to perceive as possible. In relation to the future of Brunnshög the agricultural landscape can be perceived as a clean slate open for development and international investment on a global research market. As stated above, it is possible that our minds and lines of thought have a tendency to wander in disparate directions depending on the quality and amount of investment already made into the actual situation, despite having made conscious decisions on which factors to take into account in a design process. Indication of cultural presence and activity can cloud and limit discernible potentiality. A profoundly programmed environment can narrow our perception of action possibility, consequently a “weak” program, the presence of vast, open space can do the opposite and communicate multitudinous opportunity. There is possibly an inclination to associate a predominantly green environment (where vegetation dominate over built structures) even if man made, with untouched (by humans less invested in) nature, whereas any built structure implies a more substantial investment and value. Built structure also tend to present itself as more static and unitary, and have implications on our expectations of change and expected life span - when exploring the possibility of a place, we seem to effortlessly distinguish feasible solutions. In order to liberate ourselves in a design or planning process affordance can present a possibility, just as the various theories I have encountered in the Philosophies course. In the following texts have tried maintain a critical attitude and fuse theory with my area of interest, Brunnshög in an ambition to further explore What is possible? and not What fits?


1 Gibson states that “The affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill.� J.J. Gibson, The ecological approach to visual perception, LEA, Hillsdale, N.J., 1986. 2 Action possibility was coined by J.J.Gibson and constitute the affordances of an environment (ibid.)


the theory tool box “Practice is a set of relays from one theoretical point to another and theory is a relay from one practice to another.” Gilles Deleuze's delineates an ostensibly symmetric and elegant figure concerning the relationship between theory and practice. Jane Rendell comments on Deleuze's symmetry by pointing out that theory is not independent of practice, as practice can be of theory. Eyal Weizman indeed finds a horrific example of theory in use within practice in his description of the actions of combat units in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Deleuze states that the role of theory is to oppose power; “theory is by nature opposite of power”. This seemingly static hierarchy could be challenged (here via Rendell) through Derrida's deconstructive critique of a binary thinking where the opposite sides cannot coexist. In Derrida's philosophy hierarchical relationships can be situational and depending on social construction rather than being constant. Rendell with Diane Elam finds Derrida's “undecidability” to give opportunity for “determinate oscillation” between possibilities and avoid fixed positions. A deviation from the overall firm hierarchy at certain positions seems to be at play in Weizman's Lethal Theory. A result of the conceptual frameworks of critical theory used by IDF's strategists is the warfare where IDF move through the urban fabric via holes in the walls of buildings. The values of an individual theory may be turned inside out as exemplified in the “inverse geometry” charting the progression of the Israeli Forces where the troops “redefine outside as inside, and domestic interiors as thoroughfares”. In this manner the combat units permeate the urban fabric without having to consider the street network, and the demolition and victims that are a result of the combative warfare are hidden within homes and interiors. The IDF organization has maintained a strict structure and hierarchy while the military forces at combat level elaborate and test critical theory. Here theory is used, in an instrumental way at specific levels, without the theory ever affecting the overall structure of the IDF. The use of A Thousand Plateaus is startling and translating criticality, and the fight against a dominant power from an inferior position of less power, to merely a fight against, as exemplified by Shimon Naveh: “…we now often use the term 'to smooth out space' when we want to refer to operation in a space as if it had no borders”. The theory here communicates to Naveh the possibility of an even more profound destruction and relays other actions than originally expected. To conclude; the result of application or use of theory may rather lie in the interpretation, than the exact formulation, of the original theory.


Jane Rendell, 'Introduction: A Place Between', in Art and Architecture: A Place Between, London: I.B. Tauris, 2006. Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault , 'Intellectuals and Power,' in Language, Memory, Counter-Practice, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1977. Eyal Weizman, 'Lethal Theory', in Log 7, Winter/Spring 2006.


great expecta ons Greatness is expected of the future Brunnshög area on the outskirts of Lund. Here the two big scale research facilities, MAX IV; a synchrotron radiation laboratory and European Spallation Source; ESS, are going to be established in the near future. The University, the research community and the Municipality of Lund are cooperating to secure the profit and offshoot of the enormous investment. Lund is expected to expand as a consequence of the research facilities and within 30 years make place for up to 50,000 persons to live, work and study in the area. In the promotion of the plans for this substantial expansion of the city of Lund a uniform and consistent picture is painted under the label of “the world's prime research and innovation environment”. Inspiration for the plans is taken from the municipality's need to promote the city of Lund and the research community's demands on a global market. Little attention is focused on investigation of the area from an immediate standpoint and the potential of the area itself. When investigating potential in an urban evolutionary process J.J. Gibson's Theory of Affordances has proven useful. The affordances of the environment, Gibson states, are suited to the particular acting space of an individual and communicate the possibilities or capabilities for an individual to act. The consequence of accumulated possibilities is inevitably inconsistency and contradiction. The perception of an affordance always entails conflict – there is never one answer to a complex situation and things can evolve along various paths. What could then be the potential for an affordance based method of investigation in an urban evolutionary process? The spectrum of potential and conflict, within an individual and between individuals could be associated to Chantal Mouffe's concepts of antagonism and hegemony. Mouffe states that liberal concepts fail to address the pluralism of the social world which always contains conflict without solution, the typical liberal stance being that a heterogeneous world can be assembled into a “harmonious ensemble”. Mouffe presents possibilities to consciously escape the demand of consensus where “antagonism reveals the very limit of any rational consensus”. Mouffe's concept of hegemony is addressing the inability to see problems of the contemporary society politically which requires “recognizing the hegemonic nature of every kind of social order and the fact that every society is the product of a series of practices attempting at establishing order in a context of contingency”. Parallels can be identified between the vision for Brunnshög's “creative meeting places” and Mouffe's assessment of neo-liberal production. In Mouffe's critique the liberal ambition includes packaging of once disruptive values associated with counter-culture and transforming them into easily digestible claims for authenticity and originality. By taking over formulated critique Mouffe means that the producers in this manner neutralize possible conflicts. In the vision for the Brunnshög area the potential situations of diversity and antagonism are transformed into comfortable life style concepts ready to be consumed on a global market. J.J. Gibson, The ecological approach to visual perception, LEA, Hillsdale, N.J., 1986. Chantal Mouffe, 'Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces', Art and Research, vol. 1, no. 2, Summer 2007.


great expecta ons II Save Lund – the last chance A number of reports have been published over the past year regarding the development and situation in Lund. Independent researchers and others have identified, analyzed and described the development and basically come to the same conclusion: Lund has consistently been falling behind over the past 20-25 years. The city has lost jobs and welfare dependency, among citizens as well as by the municipality itself, has grown. The tax capacity has been reduced and opportunities to support oneself through work have decreased. To this may be added that the demographics have led to great social inequality that manifest itself through high crime, disorder in the schools, and general uneasiness to name a few. This came as no surprise to us, and probably not to most of Lund's inhabitants. However, the questions that need to be asked are: Why has it become like this? Why has nothing been done to reverse the trend? In the analysis made about why it has become so bad two factors emerge as main explanations: 1. Lund's housing policy resulted in the 1980s to an overrepresentation of rental apartments. 2. Business in Lund was in the early 1980s characterized by manufacturing. Unfortunately one failed to fully understand the dynamics of the business and failed to take steps to attract service production and other future-oriented business. The combination of a distorted housing market and a stagnant economy has been devastating for Lund. Many devoted community actors have had deep insight into the problems and a clear desire to reverse the trend. But the ability to address the structural causes of the negative development has been lacking as well as the managerial resources to implement concrete and structural action. Lund is located in the expansive Öresund region, with good communications, beautiful city center, excellent educational opportunities within reach and land resources for attractive, close to the sea housing, to name just a few of the factors that make Lund deserving the epithet City of Possibilities. We must make firm decisions with tangible results to take advantage of the given possibilities. Our action on these structural factors may be briefly summarized: 1. We will take advantage of Lund's unique opportunities to build attractive homes near the strait. This will create the migration of families and people with stable conditions, which positively will affect the labor market, business, tax capacity, basis for retail trade and the general social climate.


2. The East and some parts of central Lund are highly segregated. Crime, welfare dependency and ethnic segregation show unacceptable conditions. We want to create opportunities for new businesses, such as the idea to move Lund Town Hall to The Dammhag School, rebuild apartments to condominiums and perhaps even demolish some houses in order to make the district more attractive with new squares, playgrounds and parks. Everything indicates that Lund's industry will continue to stagnate if nothing is done. We want to create effective and result-oriented work with the business and industry based on skills and decisiveness. With a progressive land policy and access to attractive dwellings Lund has great potential. As a good example, a global logistics company decision to choose Lund can be mentioned. Here our ability to offer attractive housing played a major role and is also the prerequisite for Lund to get the full effect of the nearly 1000 jobs that will be created here. We can turn the tide in Lund based on these measures. It will soon be too late for Lund! A great and historic responsibility rests on the Lund politicians. If we fail to collect us this time – Lund has a bleak future ahead. Then the falling behind of Lund will continue and Lund will, somewhat pointedly, become a gray powerless city without hope for the future. It is at this point that our children will ask us: Why didn't you do anything? Municipal Councils OfďŹ ce 2010-01-13


The original text about Landskrona is a call for action by two Landskrona councilors. The text has been translated and edited by me. Landskrona has been consistently substituted with Lund. A company name has been removed and replaced with a more general description. The text about Landskrona was retrieved 130408 from The map of Landskrona (ca 1850, here highly pixelated and processed by me) was retrieved 130408 from



great expecta ons III Elisabeth Grosz introduces the notion of Chora through Plato's original text Timaeus and Critias (Plato, 1965, Grosz 2000). Plato here construes chora as a connection between the intelligible, unchanging (perhaps even final) world and the sensible, visible and changing world. Chora is used to explain a shift from idea to reality, “it insinuates itself between the oppositional terms in the impossible no-man's land of the excluded middle” (Grosz 2000). Plato claims that no definite properties can be attached to chora, at the same time as chora has all qualities.”It is the mother of all qualities without itself having any – except its capacity to take on, to nurture, to bring into existence any other kind of being” (ibid.). In the resisting of qualities Plato maintains an intermediary function and a receptable status (although resisting properties possibly is a way of accepting them, as a negation which has to assume the negated to exist). Grosz delivers heavy critique of the concept of chora as treated by Plato and Derrida, and claims that “…chora serves to produce a founding concept of femininity whose connections with women and female corporeality have been severed, producing a disembodied femininity as the ground for the production of a (conceptual and social) universe.” (ibid.). Having said that, is there any potential to be found in the usage of certain aspects of chora in relation to the tools and representations used in urban planning? Could the notion of Chora be linked to an existing planning document, and in this association underscore the multifaceted process of planning? One is easily infatuated and spellbound by physical and temporal representations of “no-man's land”, such as border crossings; literally no-man's land, the soil beneath an embassy in a foreign country; obvious questions about the soil's nationality come to mind, dawn; neither day nor night, per definition ephemeral where change is immediately and tangibly felt. Can a plan designed by the City Planning Administration in Lund offer some of chora's intrinsic and transient characteristic? The Structure Plan (2012) at hand is a mix of a representation of an actual situation and an imagined vision of the future Brunnshög area in Lund. The already existing residential areas, drawn in great detail, within Northeast Lund appear to be a depiction of reality. The areas that are expected to be built in a near future are drawn with thicker lines and look more general and undecided –like abstractions or fantasies. The areas and elements of the map that are planned for the future consists mostly of various shades in more saturated colors than the pale color field representing the already existing. All contour lines are marked on the map, but no heights are quantified, the topographical information is thus limited. Existing main roads on Brunnshög; Odarslövsvägen; Utmarksvägen lingers between the present and the future, their extension is expected to be the same in the future. The lettering on the map is identical whether representing existing buildings, fields and roads or future buildings and streets. High prior knowledge about the area is essential in order to comprehend the information about Brunnshög's planned and expected future.


The reality of the plan is both what is now and what is envisioned or dreamt for future change. It floats between the two positions of present and future and has a fluid and temporal quality, much like a medieval painting that on the same surface tells an evolving story that move across time - like a comic strip within one frame. The plan is representing a state of transition, as chora, both resisting and accepting properties, and is depending on which communicational convention one takes as a starting point when reading the plan. Perhaps reading a plan or map is, somewhat like reading a text, set in time with a certain progress; even if resisting the logic of beginning and end some information is processed initially having the handicap of not having established a connection to information read later that will have the advantage (in terms of level of information processed) to already know the initial information.

Strukturplan Lund NE/Brunnshög, 2012, Municipality of Lund, Retrieved on 130411 fromög/bilder%20att%20hämta/120514_strukturplan.pdf Elizabeth Grosz, 'Women, Chora, Dwelling' in Jane Rendell, Barbara Penner, Iain Borden, Gender Space Architecture: An Interdisciplinary Introduction, London: Routledge, 2000 Plato, Timaeus and Critias, London: Penguin Books, 1965 (excerpt).


great expecta ons IV affect While reading Eric Shouse I desperately try to determine the exact location of the phenomenon or function of affect on a procedural timeline or within my own body. How to get hold of this, at least seemingly tiny, thing called affect? Affect "is a prepersonal intensity corresponding to the passage from one experiential state of the body to another and is implying an augmentation or diminution in that body's capacity to act" (Shouse 2011), see also Spinoza's claim of a body's ability to act rising or decreasing dependent on the influx of outer stimuli (Thrift 2008:178). A capacity to produce proprioception lies within our body, proprioception being the "continuous but unconscious sensory flow from movable parts of the body". This is where affect, engendered as an answer to outside stimuli is supposed to add a sense of urgency or intensity. In the (adult) body this intensity then determines the body's alertness for action (ibid.). As I understand it from Shouse, affect is prepersonal, a state at the absolute beginning of a response to an outer stimuli. The process of affect production according to Shouse would then be: affect is moving from the prepersonal, continuing through the biographical/personal (feeling) to the "other side" where it becomes consciously accessible to us and forms a response (emotion) that communicates to the “outside world” (i.e. the world more noticeably shared with others). Shouse states that affect is not personal and is non-conscious. I wonder if Shouse considers affect to be not personal because it is universal and not unique. In addition to that, personal does not have to mean conscious, even if we are not aware that something is happening to us, the event can be deeply rooted in our specific capacities and properties. Although being unthought, the production of affect could be personal in the ability to produce a reaction to the experienced affect and also in the ability to perceive the stimuli that cause the affect reaction. If the production of affect must include the ability to be affected (that constitutes a personal capacity) how can it not be personal? When turning to Nigel Thrift a somewhat different account of affect emerge. Thrift points to the lack of studies of affect in relation to cities and urbanity. He holds a politically oriented ambition where he acknowledges the affective repertoire of cities and identifies the urban engineering in the creation of cities responding to the demand of exhibiting “intense expressivity" (Thrift 2008:172). With Thrift affect seems to be closer related to what Shouse would label emotion and feeling, i.e. not a prepersonal phenomenon, but the displayed result of a prepersonal phenomenon (this prepersonal phenomena could be Shouse's affect). Thrift names fear, happiness and joy as examples of affect that emerges in city life. Each of the approaches to affect he investigates moves towards "an 'inhuman' or 'transhuman' framework in which individuals are generally understood as effects of the events to which their body parts (broadly understood) respond and in which they participate" and considers affect as "a different kind of intelligence about the world" (Thrift 2008:175).


Affect that spans over time, and from individual through several media to Philosophies blog post (still from Blade Runner, 1982)

Thrift presents four definitions of affect: the first consider affect as "a set of embodied practices that produce visible conduct as an outer lining" (ibid.) and further "Because there is no time out from expressive being, perception of a situation and response are intertwined and assume a certain kind of 'response-ability'" (Katz 2000 in Thrift 2008:176). The second definition is based on drive: "emotions are primarily vehicles or manifestations of the underlying libidinal drive" (Thrift 2008:176). The third is associated with Spinoza and Deleuze and concerns Spinoza's challenging of Descartes' model of a body ruled by will, and the world being put together of two substances: extension and thought. Spinoza here puts forward the idea of only one substance where the thinking and acting happens in parallel. The fourth definition is the Darwinian translation of affect which is based on evolution and states that emotional expression is universal and may not be exclusive to humans. Thrift then outlines examples of how affect is used within politics: how it through media has become a visible element which targets the public with methods of affect, e.g. when using emotion and let details of it represent a whole. This works well with an increasing emphasis in Euro-American societies to let subjective emotion stand as truth, "rather than through rational judgment or abstract reasoning" (Thrift 2008:184), I do wonder what is decided to be a rational ambition here, and by whom. What might affect do then? Thrift brings elements from the four approaches to affect together and extends them into politics through the video art of Bill Viola. In Viola's work “The intent is clearly to let facial expression or other body movements (and, most obviously, the hand), patterns of light and different spatial formations interact in telling ways, providing 'turbulent surfaces' in which emotional and physical shape coincide in arcs of intensity” (Thrift 2008:195). Thrift points out that movement and emotion, and how that relationship is formed in cities on screens populated by faces, have become normal means of expression (ibid.). The immediate presence of humans in cities is also acknowledged; “…the city as a sea of faces, a forest of hands, an ocean of lamentation: these are the building blocks of modern urbanism just as much as brick and stone.” (Thrift 2008:196). In his work Viola shows how we through mimesis learn about our own emotions and how the display and broadcast of these emotions affect others. On his sets Viola intertwine affect with space and time: “By operating on space and time (stretching, transforming, miniaturizing etc.) they become a kind of threshing floor for the emotions from which new instinctual traffic may come.” (ibid.). In my previous Great Expectations blog posts I have tried to apply various theoretical concepts to the Brunnshög area in Lund, which has a future associated with a patchwork of expectations. In my quest for potential on site, as well as within the process of creating and planning the area, I of course also have had great expectations of my findings. After all “expectation is inevitably a part of perception” (Hustvedt 2013). As the affect concept, among other things, addresses immediate perception, I thought it would be well suited to combine it with an investigation done on site in the Brunnshög area, and see if I can spot this, at least seemingly tiny, thing called affect. For that, see Great Expectations V, Affect.


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. Nigel Thrift, 'Spatialities of Feeling', in Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect, London: Routledge, 2008 Eric Shouse, 'Feeling, Emotion, Affect', in Melissa Gregg, ed. 'Affect.' M/C Journal 8.6 (2005). 25 Nov. 2011. Siri Hustvedt: Art is a memory illustration from Blade Runner


great expecta ons V affect I will here try to combine the notion of affect with an investigation done on Brunnshög in February 2013 when I held a workshop on the theme of parallel planning. In the workshop me and the students performed the same exercise; to explore the Brunnshög area through The Theory of Affordances by Gibson. I have in my blog post on Chora written briefly about the first part of this investigation, relating to the Structure Plan of Brunnshög from 2012. I will below see if affect could constitute a reaction in a process seen as: environment communicates affordance - individual picks it up through perception - individual creates affect as an unconscious intensity depending on its biographical/personal constitution - feeling and emotion is created and broadcast (and communicate the answer/reaction to the affordance) – individual learns from the broadcasting event by the reaction of others and oneself The process outlined above takes more inspiration from Shouse than Thrift as it focuses on affect being related to perception and cognition rather than being a broadcast feeling used within the urban fabric. Although I do see the ability to create affect as personal as well as dependent on situation, where Shouse would see the same function as non-personal. Gregg and Seigworth outline affect as a sort of unconscious knowing pushing us to action or thought as a response relating to its context: “…the capacity of a body is never defined by a body alone but is always aided and abetted by, and dovetails with, the field or context of its force-relations…”(Gregg and Seigworth, 2010:3). In this accumulation of force-relations affect constitutes a potential “Affect arises in the midst of inbetween-ness: in the capacities to act and be acted upon” (Gregg and Seigworth, 2010:1). One could see affect as the intensity that sets off an incremental response to a perceived outer stimuli, which for instance could be an affordance of some kind. In the following investigation on Brunnshög I went on a search for affordance. I will now try to high-light one of the situations and try to reconstruct the events connected to the perceived affordances and see if I can identify affect in this erratic expedition. My aim this cold winter day was to take me to a previously decided spot on a map, and try to find the center of the not yet built European Spallation Source ring. My aim was to record my “answers” to perceived affordance during my trip.


In the three pictures above I am on my way to the chosen spot on the map, or so I thought, as it turns out I drove too far and have to turn back.


Affordance To get lost, drive carefully on snow and ice, keep speed limit, stay on road, not crash car, arrive at destination on time, take pictures, GPS navigation and many more (e.g. the “opposite” or variations of the here stated affordances). Affect The quality of the road, car movement, weather, speed etc. is creating immediate bodily adjustments responding to the situation at hand; the impulse causing the adjustments could be identified as affect. While driving I am looking at my GPS and taking pictures with my camera along my route. I let go of the GPS with my right hand and put it on the passenger seat, I grab the camera, left hand on steering wheel, checking review mirrors. These devices must cause a great amount of affect as every interaction with them feels urgent and is performed in a hurry. Affect is possibly also what, together with my capabilities, make the body adjustments feel pressing, that tells the hands “turn the steering wheel now” (or you will drive off the road). If turning the wheel is initially caused by an emotional intensity affect, then the turning of the wheel, at least according to Shouse, could in fact be labelled emotion or feeling. If referring to Thrift, it would instead be the displayed emotional response visible and perceivable to others that would be identified as affect: my frowning, the facial expression of anxiety and surprise, together with my clinging over the wheel, leaning forward to get closer to the windshield in an effort to try to answer the questions Where am I? What kind of place is this? How can I manage?


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. Nigel Thrift, 'Spatialities of Feeling', in Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect, London: Routledge, 2008. Eric Shouse, 'Feeling, Emotion, Affect', in Melissa Gregg, ed. 'Affect.' M/C Journal 8.6 (2005). 25 Nov. 2011.


Great Expectations  

In order to liberate ourselves in a design or planning process affordance can present a possibility, just as the various theories I have enc...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you