Are Affordances Impressive?

A colleague recently asked a very interesting question:
  • “Do Affordances radiate from you, are they impressed on you by the environment, something you pull from the environment, or is it a synchronous interaction?”

Here are some rough ideas:

1. You im-press the environment, by your actions (glance, gesture, sound, text, bombs, flowers, etc). This leaves an impression and possibly traces, if the impression is durable (and it alters the micro-ecology) [see the picture of gravity as space-time at:] .

2. If you are satisfied with the inter-action, you might try it again, and if that is still satisfactory, it will start to consolidate a path and memories in your brain, muscles, bones, etc. That becomes an affordance, and over time it recedes into your subconscious, and becomes tacit, leaving space in your conscious mind for exploring new affordances.

The contrary is that unsatisfactory interaction becomes similarly impressed as a 'disfordance', if I can coin such a term. Disfordances are likely to impress, or embed, deeper into the tacit than affordances. And a parallel process takes place, of course, in your immediate environment: affordances and disfordances become traced and embedded into your built and social environment too.

3. A text = a body of signs that leaves traces (or a body of traces that forms signs) - in the environment, in bodies, in media, in memory, dreams etc.

4. You can transcribe (not transfer) the traces of these affordances from yourself (see body parts inventory, above) into gestures, signs, media, and pass them on to other people, who will still need to be able to 'read' them.

5. Other people can also 'read' traces that you and your affordances leave lying around, intentionally and unintentionally, and try them out for themselves, and re-use them, create mashups, etc.

6. If they find these affordances amenable, they will add them to their repertoires of their own affordances (and identities), most likely with some variation or amendment, not least because each affordance has to leave traces within each particular person, and these traces will therefore be 'captured' or 'impressed' slightly differently in different people.

Example: Art is powerful when it leaves a lasting impression, and becomes an important affordance.

See the Stockhausen link, on 'diabolical' art at: if you want the converse, and see also Ezra Pound's definition of poetry, which is "news that stays news". Stockhausen's example of diabolical art (art of the devil, literally) is interesting - is it also an 'affordance', or is it (in my new terms) a 'disfordance'? - I think not.

But like most powerful and durable affordances and disfordances, great art doesn't always 'hit you in the face', it often creeps up on you from behind, over time.