The Platform, 2019

Liminal Space and After Hours aesthetics

Posted on Jun 21, 2022

The interpretation of our Artificial Intelligence is unlimited: you can type in whatever you want and our AI will interpret it to fetch the most relevant screencaps from our stills database. We already knew it, but we tried a new kind of search that we are particularly fascinated by: searching web aesthetics on Flim. And it works pretty well! By 'web aesthetics' we mean the art movements that have been emerging on the Internet for a few years and are now part of visual culture.

As we explained in a previous article about paintings and cinema through the scope of our AI, our AI was trained with a combination of images and human-written texts about those images. This means that all screenshots resulting from a search are the common view of a subject. Therefore, our AI knows very well what people say about visual culture and especially about the web visual culture. For this reason, when you enter this type of search on Flim, the results are very relevant: our AI finds images in the style of those it has seen and studied.

So let us start with two famous and related aesthetics: liminal space and after hours, two aesthetics that have iconographic similarities but whose meaning and atmosphere are very different.

Liminal space aesthetic: spaces of transition

You’ve probably seen disturbing images on Instagram, TikTok, or in articles of empty spaces with cold light that feel like you've been there before, such as a parking lot, a waiting room, or a supermarket section. This is liminal space, a fascinating web aesthetic that started in 2019 and became very popular.

A long desert corridor, an empty room with neon lights, a frozen and empty hallway... The liminal space aesthetic is about space, but also about time. It refers to the place of transition between the ‘what was’ and ‘the next’ with a both familiar, frozen and unsettling atmosphere.

Beyond the physical spaces they refer to, liminal spaces have a deeper, metaphorical meaning: familiar everyday spaces like hallways or parking lots become spaces that our mind associates with feelings of emptiness, transition, and the unknown. The term ‘liminal’, by the way, derives from the Latin word ‘limen’ meaning ‘threshold’.

After Hours aesthetic: spaces of contemplation

After hours aesthetics describes the feelings of seeing a place empty at night that is usually populated.

For example, after hours refers to the impressions we get when we walk or drive alone at night on familiar and normally busy streets. Our mind sees the silhouettes of the daily crowd but appreciates their absence at night. It can also refer to spaces where the people who are there at night are quite different than during the day.

This is after hours. The impressions you have when you see places from a different angle, in a different light.

With liminal space, they both explore empty spaces, often at night. The bigger difference is that liminal space evokes a deep and unsettling sense of "déjà vu," while after hours describes a quiet and contemplative moment of solitude, of suspended time to be captured before the crowd returns.

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