Time-Based Media.

The Guggenheim describes this area of art as ‘contemporary artworks that include video, slide, audio or computer technologies’ and because the pieces unfold over time, they are called time-based media by their very nature.

Prof. Michael Tooby yesterday introduced me to the word LIMINAL. It is quite possibly the second most important ‘spark’ moment in my research as my focus is all about the space. Although I am interested in the artists who punctuate the timeline of the history of time-based media arts in the UK, it is how the work is established into the gallery/ museum/ public art space that opens my eyes and inspires me to take an installation photograph. Liminal being the threshold between one space or another, or the limbo between one circumstance and another.

Liminality comes from the Latin word līmen, meaning “Threshold”.  In anthropology it is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals. Coined in 1906 by folklorist Arnold van Gennep, and adopted in the early 1960s by Victor Turner, the terms usage has broadened to also describe changes in politics and culture a well as in rituals.  More recently, the term has passed into popular usage, where it is used in a broader sense.

The liminal state opens up a fluid, adaptable situation which enables new ideas to be introduced. Turner coined the term Liminoid to refer to experiences that have the characteristics of liminal experience, but don’t involve a resolution. It is a break from state#1. Taking this metaphysical state of liminoid experience as referred to by Turner, I want to explore the associations it has with the experience of being in the exhibition space.  Not only this, but could you describe time-based media as a liminoid art form whereby it is in the process of moving through from one state to the next? A temporal liminoid experience crossing art and technological boundaries.

My research at the time of creating this post and forming my thoughts led me to the work of Japanese artist Shinji Ohmaki from 2015 called “Simple Forms: Contemplating Beauty,” and exhibited at Mori Art Museum,Tokyo Japan. The work is comprised of a 6340×4800(mm) cloth and a fan, in a room 7m x 12m x 4.3m and was part of a much larger body of work entitled LIMINAL-AIR. The installation photographs I have used are by Kioku Keizo and Shinji Ohmaki.  In his work, Ohmaki uses the cloth to explain the boundaries between time and space. The cloth sways and moves with the air of the fan, causing you to consider and reconsider the sensory shift in your perception of the experience.

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Liminal Air Space – Time. Shinji Ohmaki

Thinking again of the definition of time-based media: art that is dependent on technology and has a durational dimension… can Ohmaki’s work (above) be classified in this way? Or would it need to be video on a loop, of the never-falling cloth?

“This is a new installation where cloth is used to make the observer aware of the domains of time and space. The cloth moves up and down, causing a fluctuation of the borders that divide various territories.

When people watch this cloth, they will probably feel that its movements go against their expectations of how things should move according to the force of gravity. Perhaps some people will feel that time is passing quickly while others might feel that time is being slowed down.

By jolting the sensations, a dimension of time and space that differs from everyday life can be created. I hope that in this dimension, people will feel their established notions about gravity being shaken, and that through their bodies and senses they will experience the contradictions to their expectations. This work expresses the breaking down of existing values and creating anew.” – Ohmaki’s explanation of his work (translated from Japanese)



Ohmaki, S. (2012). Liminal Air Space-Time, The Hakone Open-Air Museum  [installation photographs]. Available from: http://www.shinjiohmaki.net/portfolio/liminal-air/liminal_air_space-time_en.html. (Accessed 22 November 2017).

Wikipedia. (2017). Liminality. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality. (Accessed on 22 November 2017).

Shinji Ohmaki. 2017. Shinji Ohmaki.net homepage. Available at: http://www.shinjiohmaki.net/index_en.html. (Accessed on 22 November 2017).


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