…photography by Lee Ann Paynter

Artist Statement

The Space Between

Artist Statement

We are always passing through some place or space, both literally and psychologically.  The existential nature of life lends to an ambiguity of identity, both of the self and of others.  One is neither here nor there, but in a liminal state of existing nowhere, in the moment, for that moment has passed.

For me this current body of work regarding time and liminal space is a new way of working.  I have previously focused on a particular subject and expressed my opinion about how it operates in the world.  Now I am asking questions of myself, and have begun collecting images, which are undetermined, transitional, and allow for ambiguity.

Many use religion as a tool to avoid thinking about emotional emptiness and ephemerality.  Choosing instead to wish for and believe that something will happen in another life, or that life will ultimately be eternal.  This reasoning, or rather lack thereof, is a disregard for the value of ones life and what it means to be a living / breathing creature on this earth.  It has been suggested, and I believe, that the idea of an emotional “void” was created by religion and is used as a fear tool for recruiting followers.

Liminal is a fairly new word in the English language with its use first recorded in 1884, and the word liminality was not recognized until 1964.  These words and their uses are still being defined in how they relate to what it means to be between two places.  I am looking at liminal space as not only a threshold or beginning, but as one in which human beings spend much of their time, both physically and psychologically.

To express these ideas I am using the techniques of a low ASA and slow shutter speed to accomplish blur within the image.  The space chosen to photograph retains its stability and is a transitional space itself.  An airport, while obviously physically exists, has an ambiguity within the space in relation to the outside world and it’s specific location.  In using shopping malls, I am referring to not only places of consumption, but also places where people buy readymade identities.  Things that are on the verge – where one can be in both places at the same time – such as the sea or a doorway, are literally liminal and one exists there for only a moment.  The Main Gallery at CalArts is a passageway that is used as a gallery, recital hall, performance space and classroom, and is shared by all of the schools.  Media and the internet create a liminal space both physically and psychologically, with information that exists everywhere and nowhere and is constantly accessible to anyone with a connection.  It creates a space between people in a way that they can be in contact, view each other’s activities with social networking, or even see and talk with one another when they are hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Considering physical and psychological liminality, the two are often related within the space of time.  There is a paradox between existing in a space and passing through it, along with a tension between being in a place of transition and a desire for stability, both of which I think are intriguing and troubling to the viewer.  This project is especially challenging in using photography to represent something that cannot be seen.  I am making reference to what is outside the frame as a strategy to think about space itself.