If you ever find yourself in a space that brings up a feeling of ‘not knowing what’s up but something’s definitely up’ you may have encountered a liminal space. Obsessed over by fans who chase the unsettling feel, liminal spaces have become somewhat of a mysterious phenomenon surfing around the internet.
According to Imgur user RobJustice, “The liminal space is the 'crossing over' space, a space where you have left something behind, yet you are not yet fully in something else. It's a transition space.”
And thanks to the r/LiminalSpace subreddit with 237k members, we now have some of the most captivating examples to rest (or stress) our eyes on. From bowling alleys and abandoned buildings to almost surreal window views and places that feel strangely familiar although you have never been there, it’s hard not to stare for more.
And let us know how you feel about these liminal spaces in the comments below!
To find out more about these mysterious spaces that have been capturing the internet's imagination, Bored Panda talked to Lillie Marshall, an English teacher and writer who runs Around the World "L" Travel and Life Blog. Lillie is also a self-confessed fan of liminal spaces and discussed the phenomenon in her articles that you can check out here and here.
Lillie said she has been fascinated by the concept of liminal spaces since she was little. “I loved thinking and writing about them. So much of our lives are spent in these in-between spaces, and yet we so often ignore them,” she said and added: “Once you can see the importance and beauty of liminal spaces, it makes it much easier to be in the moment and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.”
When asked how she’d describe a liminal space, Lillie explained it has to do with a magical and transformative quality. “Liminality can exist in physical space, time, and states of being, and refers to that in-between moment where you're between two things.”
Moreover, “It is a sometimes uncomfortable—but extremely important—era of transformation and shifting. Often we get impatient with these transitional spaces, but they are KEY, and are beautiful and profound if you allow yourself to truly be in them and understand their magical gifts,” she concluded.
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Bored Panda also spoke to Rob Justice, a table-top role-playing game designer and software engineer living in Kansas City, Missouri who is a fan of the liminal aesthetic and has shared an illuminating post on the topic on Imgur.“
A few months ago I saw a picture on Twitter, it's actually the very first one in the imgur post you linked above, and just couldn't stop thinking about it,” he recounted. Rob said he hadn’t heard about liminality so he did a bit of reading. “A few days later I was looking through old pictures on my phone and realized I'd taken a few liminal space pictures myself over the years. Just places that felt unique or odd to me. It's always weird to realize you're a fan of something before you know what it is.”
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Rob believes that there’s “something strangely powerful to the human psyche about transitionary places. The feeling of being between two places is an uncanny feeling, whether it's literal or psychological.”
This feeling can occur in any place. “I recently took a family vacation and we spent several hours in airports, where I kept thinking about the concept of liminality; We're not home but we're not on our vacation yet.” Rob explained that just like most transitions, “it's stressful but there is something comforting knowing that it's temporary. I think that's where people find themselves drawn to liminal pictures. It's temporary places made permanent."
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When it comes to describing this phenomenon, Rob said that his favorite definition is that “a liminal space is a 'crossing over' or transition space. It's a place where you have left something behind yet you are not yet fully in something else. It's the space between other spaces.”
Turns out that, “liminal is from the Latin word limen, meaning 'a threshold' so a liminal space is often a boundary point of one space beginning and another space ending,” he concluded.