As second semester MFA students, you are at a threshold or liminal space entering into the second half of this semester and soon into the final year of your MFA studies. The term liminality is a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the threshold of/or between two different existential planes, as defined in neurological psychology a liminal state and in the anthropological theories of ritual by such writers as Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner.
This project is meant to be open-ended and expressive. Use your instincts on form-making. Capture still or moving images, use graphic forms, colors, illustrations, typography, anything that inspires you.
The definition of liminality is that it is the transitional period or phase of a rite of passage, during which the participant lacks social status or rank, remains anonymous, shows obedience and humility, and follows prescribed forms of conduct, dress, etc.
Initially, I got very confused about this project as it was so open-ended. We were just given one word — “Liminality”. Also, the fact that this word could be interpreted in so many ways, made things more difficult. I started by doing my research on the internet. Wikipedia ended up being a very useful resource where I started reading about the origin of the word when it was first developed in the early twentieth century by folklorist Arnold van Gennep and later taken up by Victor Turner. As I started to read more and more about this concept, I realized that we are surrounded by liminal experiences and everyday experience this concept in various forms and shapes. Thus, I started to create my mood board about the various iterations of liminality that I have faced in life.
1. Hindu Scriptures
I have grown up with a lot of Hindu mythology stories about Half human and half animal gods and stories that I couldn’t comprehend but always having a moral ending to them. There are a number of stories in the folklore of those who could only be killed in a liminal space: Lleu could not be killed during the day or night, nor indoors or outdoors, nor riding or walking, nor clothed or naked (and is attacked at dusk, while wrapped in a net with one foot on a cauldron and one on a goat). Likewise, in Hindu text Bhagavat Purana, Vishnu appears in a half-man half-lion form named Narasimha to destroy the demon Hiranyakashipu who has obtained the power never to be killed in day nor night, in the ground nor in the air, with weapon nor by bare hands, in a building nor outside it, by man nor beast. Narasimha kills Hiranyakashipu at dusk, across his lap, with his sharp claws, on the threshold of the palace, and as Narasimha is a god himself, the demon is killed by neither man nor beast. In the Mahabharata, Indra promises not to slay Namuci and Vritra with anything wet or dry, nor in the day or in the night, but instead kills them at dusk with foam.
2. Border and Land Disputes
The spatial dimension of liminality can include specific places, larger zones or areas, or entire countries and larger regions. Liminal places can range from borders and frontiers to no man’s lands and disputed territories, to crossroads to perhaps airports, hotels, and bathrooms which are spaces people pass through but do not live in arguably indeed all ‘romantic travel enacts the three stages that characterize liminality: separation, marginalization, and reaggregation’. The state of Israel and the site of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict serves as a liminal place as each side’s existence depends on the negation of the other, creating an impossibly liminal situation in which both sides are betwixt and between what is normally expected of an autonomous society. Similarly, a long-standing dispute has been over the state of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
A protest I feel is also a liminal state where people are in a transitional state of unrest and want to move to a stable and peaceful future. In India currently, anti-CAA protests were going on and thus I wanted to make a project may be on this issue. The Citizenship Amendment Act (Bill) protests, also known as CAA Protest or CAB Protest, occurred after the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was enacted by the Government of India on 12 December 2019. The move sparked a widespread national and overseas ongoing protests against the act and its associated proposals of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) The protests first began in Assam and spread swiftly in other states such as Delhi, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tripura on 4 December 2019. Protests broke out rapidly across the country, although the concerns of the protesters vary.
Sporting events such as the Olympics, NFL football games, and hockey matches are forms of liminoid experiences. They are optional activities of leisure that place both the spectator and the competitor in in-between places outside of society’s norms. Sporting events also create a sense of community among fans and reinforces the collective spirit of those who take part. Homecoming football games, gymnastics meets, modern baseball games and swim meets all qualify as liminoid and follows a seasonal schedule; therefore, the flow of sports becomes cyclical and predictable, reinforcing the liminal qualities. Being a huge soccer fan and for the club — Manchester United, doing a passion project on them sounded another amazing idea!
Twilight serves as a liminal time, between day and night — where one is ‘in the twilight zone, in a liminal nether region of the night’. The title of the television fiction series The Twilight Zone makes reference to this, describing it as “the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition” in one variant of the original series’ opening. The name is from an actual zone observable from space in the place where daylight or shadow advances or retreats about the Earth. Noon and, more often, midnight can be considered liminal, the first transitioning between morning and afternoon, the latter between days.
Having read the entire Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer I thought this was another interesting area that I could research upon.
6. Liminal Spaces
Every day while working, traveling or doing some activity our mind ends up wandering into spaces or areas within our mind and we daydream. This experience is also a liminal experience as we are passing time and in a transitional state. E.g. traveling to college or work, is a liminal experience from going from point A to point B. Waiting rooms of all appointments are a liminal space. The hallway is a liminal space we need to pass through to reach our destination. The staircase is a liminal effort to reach to the top. Even our sleep is a liminal experience!
7. Kinetic Typography
Kinetic typography and the GIF format are liminal experiences too. The GIF format presents a liminal point of view to the viewer, the first and last frame is never visible, everything is like a middle transitional frame. Hence even the FORMAT that I have chosen presents liminality.
8. My Student Journey
Being a student is also a liminal experience. I am in this transitional state where I am learning and gaining experience and knowledge about my field of interest so that I can graduate into a graphic designer. Also transitioning from a complete digital designer to both a print and digital one is another liminal experience that I am currently facing.
Change of prompt:
After making all these mood boards, I was inclining towards using the kinetic typography format and also on Indian mythology. However, then came Spring Break and the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. Our semester got disrupted and so did most of our projects. As for this project we had to have a print and digital component both, our project also had to change. Now, we had to make three digital posters with an AR component built into them with the help of Artivive. Before these changes were made, I had already begun working on a personal project about this COVID-19 crisis. I hated this situation of online classes we all had to adjust to. I loved working in our studio and just seeing everyone working passionately on their projects, I missed it so much. Hence, I started making kinetic typography videos on this situation we were in. That’s when I realized that we are in a liminal state.
We are in this transitional/temporary state of being stuck in our homes and waiting to go back to our normal lives. So, I decided to make this my Threshold and liminality topic. I used Artivive and started building AR layers over my Kinetic typography videos.