A liminal space is a threshold, a transitional stage of a process. Think of an empty or abandoned home, office building, street, mall, factory, rest stop, farmland, desert or wasteland. Perhaps you’re inside an abandoned train station and feel the discordant combination of the Weird, the Absurd, and ominous, nostalgic, uncanny, disturbing and unsettling feelings. It is a place not meant to be examined for it is devoid of life. There are no exits in liminal spaces as the actuality of life is just as present and important as its potentiality. The liminal is lonely, empty and familiar, artificial and comforting. You may believe you’re not supposed to be there and something feels wrong or off.
These spaces hold onto the memories of all who have inhabited them, but they’re cold, impersonal, uninviting and silently indifferent to your sense of deja vu and dread.
Perhaps you feel anemoia, nostalgia for somewhere you’ve never been, or just the sight of a stripped down parking lot illuminated by yellow fluorescent light fixtures makes you feel nauseous. You’re disoriented, suffering existential anxiety amidst washed-out vibrant colors in an abandoned shopping mall.
Famous liminal spaces can be seen in The Shining's hallways and floor patterns, The Bardo of Tibetan Buddhist beliefs, within video games such as Minecraft, the Truman Show's stairs, and more prosaic liminal spaces may be a forest's threshold, the cusp of a major life-decision and returning to your childhood neighborhood.
When I see or experience a liminal space I ask myself what can spaces of altered reality teach us about the nature of reality itself?
Living in the horror-reality or a science-fiction fueled world, liminal spaces introduce us to those dimly lit corridors of our minds.
These spaces, while intentionally overlooked for their unsettling presence, are integral to transformation. In “Those Who Are Invited In”, liminal spaces are crucial and are characters in and of themselves.
Which is more unsettling to you, a seemingly endless mining tunnel lit by buzzing and humming unnatural fixtures or a highway that stretches beyond the horizon with barren desert on either side? I'd love to know!
Image Credit: @simonthedesigner on Instagram