Oawa Mountain, Kamiyama, Tokushima, Japan

Concrete platform: 8x4m
Stone surface: 5.5x2m
Timber bench
Tool box with carving chisels

Liminality in Kamiyama is a Place abstracted from its surroundings, an in-between space, out of context, without meaning. It is a transitional, empty, liminal space. A non-place, waiting for people to project a meaning onto it. . It relates to the human desire to leave traces of presence. The desire one often has while visiting new environment. Cutting marks on trees, or throwing coins into fountains hoping to be back one day. Liminality includes a toolbox with carving tools, and a bench with a beautiful view towards Kamiyama onsen. It is an invitation – without any pressure to participate – to spend some time in the relaxing surrounding of the Kamiyama forest at Oawa Mountain and/or leave some traces of presence ‘set in stone’.

Term Liminality is used to describe the psychological process of transitioning across boundaries and borders. A moment of in-between. A transition full of uncertainty and possibility. When we’ve left one behind and aren’t quite established in another. The term was coined by Arnold Van Gennep in 1908 in his novel Rits of Passage who noticed that many, if not all, of the rituals across cultures, have the function of moving a person from one status or social circumstance to another. Van Gennep was the first anthropologist to point out the regularity of the rituals attached to the transitional stages in human life. He differed four key types of liminal spaces experience: physical movements, change in social status, change in situations, and passing of time, which accompany every change of place, social position, state, and age. Van Gennep observed that the ritual ceremonies that go along with the landmarks of one’s life differ only in detail from one culture to another and are, in essence, universal. Liminality can refer to the physical, emotional and metaphorical transitions that occur in life. The liminal period is the time of passage from what someone (or something) was to what they will become.

Non-place [nonplace] is a neologism coined by the French anthropologist Marc Augé to refer to anthropological spaces of transience where human beings remain anonymous, and that do not hold enough significance to be regarded as “places” in their anthropological definition. Examples of non-places would be motorways, hotel rooms, airports, and shopping malls. The term was introduced by Marc Augé in his work Non-places: Introduction To An Anthropology Of Supermodernity

The perception of a space as a non-place is strictly subjective: any given individual can view any given location as a non-place. (A shopping mall is not a non-place for a person who works there every day). The concept of non-place is opposed, according to Augé, to the notion of anthropological place. The place offers people a space that empowers their identity, where they can meet other people with whom they share social references. The non-places, on the contrary, are not meeting spaces and do not build common references to a group. Finally, a non-place is a place we do not live in, in which the individual remains anonymous and lonely.

A significant debate concerning the term and its interpretation is described in Marc Augé’s writings under the title of From Places to Non-Places. The distinction between places and non-places derives from the opposition between space and place. As essential preliminary here is the analyses of the notions of place and space suggested by Michel de Certeau. Space for him is a frequented space and intersection of moving bodies: it is the pedestrians, who transform the street (geometrically defined by town planners) into a space.

fot. Masataka Namazu