Liminal Spaces: The Era of Realizing False Promises

Published in
4 min readSep 8, 2020

How the failure of the “American Dream” has it’s own dystopian aesthetic

Liminal Space — Vacant Mall

What are Liminal Spaces?

Liminal spaces are the weird, atmospheric, and sometimes eerie places, that look like the gateway to another realm. They’re a bit hard to explain, and people every day are discussing what constitutes a “liminal space”. But most people can agree that the majority of photos that are submitted on r/liminalspace share that special quality of being a bit “off”…and that “off-ness” is indeed what makes a liminal space, “liminal”.

“In anthropology, liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete.”

An outdoor Liminal Space I snapped a picture of (photo cred: RAMCPU)

If you’re interested in learning about the potential origin of the term or comprehensive introduction, consider great introduction to the topic by Solar Sands.

Otherwise, keep reading, and find out why the appeal to Liminal Spaces has suddenly become an area of focus for so many city-goers around the planet.

Why Liminality ?

The reason why we are fascinated with these images of vacant, abandoned, and eerie locations is that, for the most part, they represent the false promises of the modern era. Perhaps, the best liminal space photos are the ones that show some sort of modern architecture. It could be a home, a commercial property, or the inside of a hotel or mall. These photos usually have no human subjects in the photos and in some cases, the interior spaces have no windows at all.

Sometimes, these claustrophobic images help us understand the loneliness and futility of modern architectural achievements. Without the distraction of living subjects in the photos, the sometimes absurd…