Week 8 — Theories of Media and Technology
Throughout this course, we’ve talked a lot about how humans place meaning and associate different feelings with things. Typically, this is something that is done over time, and over time people also adapt those meanings. For example, if you think about the hoodie, the hoodie is a garment. However, it is associated with the BLM movement due to the Trayvon Martin movement. While the hoodie is simply a garment that one typically used for protection, it is also now associated with police brutality.
In comparison, one group of people might simply think of the hoodie as a garment, another group of people associates and classify it as something else. While not directly related to Happy Object, it does speak to the larger picture of associating objects with emotion. I think this example shows the fluidity of associating objects with emotions and how your feelings towards them can change over time.
I thought the idea that people seek out happy items to sort of be obvious. I think it’s essential to have things that reflect your inner hopes, desires, or even positive memories. Objects can represent anything literally, especially if they come from other humans and have some sort of sentimental value. In a world where everything is kind of materialized, we’ve evolved, at least in my opinion, of anthropomorphizing objects and labeling them as such. It makes sense that we apply specific characteristics, or values, or beliefs to inanimate things, because they also bring us comfort and make us feel safe, to an extent. However, as I mentioned earlier, I think there’s a lot regarding how we develop these emotions and attachments to certain things. I feel it is similar in the way we develop an attachment to beliefs, ideologies, perspectives in that it comes from life experiences and your associations with said object. For example, as I mentioned earlier, the hoodie itself is an inanimate garment. The hoodie does not have any feelings, and it’s just a piece of material. However, because of the hoodie association and one individual experience, one might exude happiness or comfort from the object. Another might have an adverse reaction to said object.
Another example would be symbols or icons, they develop meaning over time, and our response to them is entirely dependent on our interaction with those objects throughout life. Our meaning of things is constructed in my belief over time and through experiences and shared feelings. I think in the end, we all try to feel happy or at least seek that feeling in some way, whether it is through objects or experiences; we as humans have that goal.
In terms of designing, I think it is vital to consider affect theory as we are not only designing things, but we’re also designing for people, so we want them to associate certain feelings and emotions with said design. As such, it’s essential to consider the implications your design can have on someone’s emotion. I think the example introduced in the text sort of provided a perfect illustration of designing with feeling in mind. Theatre, television, and films do this well, and they are able to artificially create emotion in a way that also makes you feel something. As a video editor, I immediately think about how certain projects, sound effects, and music are essential to doing such. There are, of course, some silent films where the actor helps tell the story in such a magnificent way, which doesn’t require sound at all, but my best representation of this idea of affect theory would be with sound. As an editor, whenever I’m trying to help convey an emotion, I think about how I can manipulate the audience into feeling something. There are several ways of doing this, of course, with sound, but also with cuts. Some include thinking about delayed reactions, using the J and L-cuts, or including fast-paced cuts. All of them are simply ways to manipulate the audience into feeling some sort of way to help communicate the message trying to be achieved. Sound is also an example, as mentioned earlier, of how to achieve these feelings. The wrong selection of music or sound effect can change the viewer’s perception and, in some cases, change the message that you’re going for. So it’s crucial to truly consider the message that you’re trying to communicate and edit with the intention of conveying that specific emotion. I think for me, the reason I’ve enjoyed editing so much is that the editor has that power. They receive all the raw footage, and they can chop it together and communicate the message needed to make the audience feel something.