The Relevance of Liminal Space

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Over the past few months, phrases like “Liminal Space” and “Places that feel oddly familiar and uncomfortable” has made its rounds over the internet. From subreddits to gimmick accounts on Twitter, Liminal Spaces has appeared in vast corners of the internet. So, why is it a talking point at the moment? Why is it important and is there something we can take from this term and the images it is often paired with?

Liminal Space means a space between one and another, like a hallway or a waiting room from comfort to a new normal. This space can be both visual or mental, from leaving the nest and going into college, to finding out your mom has cancer. We as humans learn from these thresholds to a new way of living. Threshold, is a key word for this topic; it means the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested. Threshold in Latin means “limen” which is the root word for our topic.

In photography, Liminal Space is trending with the aesthetics of emptiness, pastel wallpapers or flooring, grainy appearance, and dim lighting. It evokes feelings of anemoia, the nostalgia for a time you’ve never known. Or, even kenopsia, the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet. There is more to what meets the eye in these unsettling images, all art needs to be thoroughly digested.

As mentioned earlier, most of these images have similarities to the definition of Liminal Space. Many images follow the pattern of transition. From dark, empty rooms to long hallways that appear to have no ends or even a vacant big box store waiting to be bought by a new one. All of these locations have to do with change, and the lack of focus on any figure allows interpretation to be based on the person who sees it.

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Liminal Space has become a movement. The setting we are living in and the entire world is transitioning dramatically resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. We as a society are evolving our life towards uncertainty, no one knows exactly what the future has for us, nor do we know how it will end up. But Liminal Space has a relatable outlet for all of us. It serves as a comforting reminder that we all go through change and sooner or later we will all get comfortable with our new normal. — MiddleClassComfort

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