The Affective Intensity of Images

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Abstract

Transformative learning is concerned with the re-formulation of our structures for making meaning through critical reflection. Recent approaches also include transformation through our intuitive, unconscious processes, and take into account the experiential and presentational ways of knowing. ‘Affective’ experience is significant to these forms of knowledge as it emphasizes immediate and direct ways of understanding. In the following article, I discuss how images and image-making are a catalyst for transformative learning due to their ‘affective intensity’ as a form of experiential knowing. I connect the primacy of affect and felt experience to theories of experiential knowing, contextualising this within extended theories of transformative learning to highlight how our affective experience of images has the potential to alter our existing cognitive patterns. The setting for this discussion is my own art and design studio-based teaching and learning. I include observations and student commentary, which was collected while I was teaching a Bachelor of Fine Arts course at The University of Auckland, New Zealand.