“Liminal Space” Artist Statement

Emily Gustin

The narrative of Liminal Space is told through a series of photographs, taken continuously throughout daily scenes from November 2020 to February 2021. This piece chronicles my life and the world around me through sight and sound and explores my perception of time and memory. I created this short film to document and notice the details of my life. Photographing each day for four months made me look at my surroundings in a different way– a way that practices gratitude, but also notices the sometimes mundane aspects of life. Each frame is a single photograph, creating a stop-motion quality that draws attention to the transient and liminal, or in-between, nature of my life in the current moment. Though there are no pictures of myself alone, the documentary is a self-portrait, showing my life, my surroundings, and the people that inhabit them. With this project, I ask: How do others relate to my experiences? How will my perception of this period of my life change as time goes by? What is the impact of paying attention to the details in one’s life? 

I am interested in the work as well as the philosophies of Henri Cartier-Bresson. One of his most influential essays, “The Decisive Moment,” outlines his idea that each moment in time can become more meaningful through the eyes of a photographer. He highlights the artistic nature of the camera. It is not just a machine for seeing; it prompts the artist (and the viewer) to think and to feel through photographs. “For me, the camera is a sketchbook, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity,” he writes. In a way, the moments in the film are sketches of my life, and it is through these sketches that a finished work is formed. These images are collected and refined through the editing process, and connections are made through the comparison of images. The juxtaposition of two separate scenes may present the viewer with various similarities and differences to ponder, overall transforming the meaning of the images. A silhouette of someone on the left placed next to a girl on the right are technically unrelated. But when viewed together, the images become unexpectedly connected, briefly in conversation with one another. 

I ask the viewer only to look and listen. My hope is that these sketches that I have collaged together allow you to connect with me, but also to have you examine small moments in your own life. I do not know the impact of the film or how it will be perceived in coming years, but for now, it has served its purpose in helping me see this liminal space of life in a new way.

Still from Liminal Space, 0:02
Still from Liminal Space, 0:32
Still from Liminal Space, 0:40
Still from Liminal Space, 0:54
Still from Liminal Space, 1:04
Still from Liminal Space, 2:52
Still from Liminal Space, 3:11
Still from Liminal Space, 3:59
Still from Liminal Space, 6:13