Is Liminality worth it?
We are exploring Liminality, a virtual reality and audio experience in NYC. Liminality is a collection of immersive stories in a new venue called MoFE (Museum of Future Experiences) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The experience aims to transform us and change our consciousness without using chemicals. They do it with three short VR films and a few guided meditation-like sound experiences in between.
Surreal storytelling meets mind bending technology to transform us. Intriguing! Here is my review of the immersive experience.
Liminality is a seated audiovisual experience which requires wearing a VR headset for some parts and closing your eyes to be immersed in the Ambisonic sound system and let your imagination take you to liminal realms for the rest.
The experience consists of award-winning Virtual Reality pieces (Life-Giver by Petter Lindblad and Alexander Rönnberg; Mind Palace by Carl Krause and Dominik Stockhausen; Conscious Existence by Marc Zimmerman) and original soundscapes which reminded me of guided meditations.
“In every rite of passage, there is a phase where one is not who they once were and not yet who they will become. Like the seeker on pilgrimage or a caterpillar inside its chrysalis, there exist states of uncertainty, chaos, and metamorphosis. These are states of liminality.”
The immersive experience is in a new venue called Museum of Future Experiences in Williamsburg, which is a hip and trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn. They use Virtual Reality and Ambisonic sound design for intimate and sensorial experiences.
Museum of Future Experiences, there is a little irony in the name, don’t you think? A museum that curates stories from the future. We’ll get to the stories in a bit.
I asked the staff and learned that the museum first and foremost hopes to make virtual reality more accessible to public. Knowing this, guess how much tickets to this experience would cost. VR gears do get expensive, yes, but there are some for half the price of this experience (Tickets cost $75). So who exactly do they make VR accessible to?
We will be talking about the content of the experience but first we should understand what Liminality hopes to achieve before getting into whether they have achieved it or not.
So let’s start with the name. What is liminality?
Liminality means “being on a threshold.” When you are in some transitionary phase, there is a point where you are no longer what you were before, but you are not yet the next thing either. So liminality is this in-between stage.
Think of life crisis moments of birth, puberty, marriage, and death. Carl Jung believed that “the individuation process of self-realization” would take place within a liminal space.
So the experience wants to become this moment for us, like birth or death, that will become this rite of passage, and depart you from what you were, before releasing you back into the world so that you can figure out what you’ll be next.
Liminality uses cutting-edge technology to explore new ideas and expand our imaginations.
MoFE has this mini-exhibition at the entrance. Issues of old pulp fiction magazines, magnifying glasses, Rorschach tests and books on psychology, consciousness, and surreal art tell you upfront what the inspirations for this experience are.
“Life-Giver,” created by Petter Lindblad and Alexander Rönnberg: The first VR short film is post-apocalyptic, it follows a family as they try to catch the last transport ship off the earth. So there is this idea that life on earth is no longer, but we don’t yet know what’s next.
“Mind Palace,” written and directed by Carl Krause and Dominik Stockhausen: The second was my favorite, which depicts the end of a relationship. Again, a state of crisis that you come out as a different person.
“Conscious Existence,” created by Marc Zimmerman: The third VR short film is an illustration of an existential journey from outer space to earth. It was more clear with the goal of Liminality compared to the first two, because it was created for this experience.
And the audio experiences in between were interesting because the virtual reality films surround you 360 degrees and when they end and the audio part begins, you are left with your imagination in the darkness behind your eyelids. I liked the contrast.
So, this experience markets itself as a trip without chemicals and offers a transformation. Was I transformed? I don’t know. It was a cool experience but you can’t claim that you’ll change what I am in 70 minutes with some short films and guided meditations.
I personally think that the philosophy behind the work is so good that the organizers can support their work with fancy concepts and interesting ideas, but I’m not sure if the experience itself is successful in delivering these ideas. If I didn’t do any research about the concepts around the experience, would I still feel like these films and sound experiences will transform me?
And it’s very ambitious; the claim is huge. That I’m not gonna be the same person anymore? Do I even want that? lol
I’d say it doesn’t quite live up to what it offers, but not because the experience is lousy, but the claim is huge. They bit a bigger bite that they can chew. I think.