The ‘Spaces in Love’ project aims to explore and participate in the passers-by experience of in-betweenness of love and space. It captures couples and families’ togetherness and separateness within the seascapes and anything in between unfolding that is yet to be lived through, yet not always understood.
The project started in December 2015 is in its early stages, where the initial focus is from the viewer standpoint, with no direct interaction with individuals. The photographs do not reveal participants’ identities, but focus on their anonymity and interactions with one another and with the space. Those passers-by can be seen as human forms that entered the scene of the sea and shore. Within that space I could witness and immerse myself in the hollow sounds of ambiguity, ‘betwixt the sand and the foam’ of different emotional forms emerging and dissolving. These also had an effect on my very own perception of what love, solitude, closeness and separateness are.
The second phase of the project interact directly with passers-by and following their agreement I will aim to capture their synergies with the space. Such photographs will reveal identities and look more closely into the thresholds of lived through experiences and emotions.
The photographs made are from various coastal sites across the UK and Spain, including: The Isle of Portland, Weston-Super-Mare, Clevedon, Portishead, Exmouth, West Pentire and Fuerteventura.
The project was presented at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California in March 2016.
ThIS project is published by THE COORDINATES SOCIETY MAGAZINE at:
It is the ‘space’ that fascinates me and the dynamics of changes occurring within it through individual’s interactions which are associated with togetherness and separateness, closeness and solitude.
As the tide goes away it residues stones on the sand that make temporary imprints, until another tide comes in and allocates them to a different place. These are the micro changes that we barely notice and which occur in a liminal space.
The word ‘liminal’ derives from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold", that is, the bottom part of a doorway that must be crossed when entering a building. In anthropology, liminality is conceptualised as the quality of ambiguity that occurs in the middle stage of transition when participants no longer hold pre-ritual status, but have not yet begun gaining of a new understanding or status when the ritual is complete (Victor Turner….). It is often described as of or relating to a sensory threshold, the midpoint of transition in a status-sequence between two positions, which is barely perceptible, yet which often is quite uncomfortable, and which we often would not choose to be in. This is a place where we long for something to be resolved.
Similarly, Yi-Fu Tuan (1979), recognises liminality in human interactions with the space, where all anthropological spaces meet the natural world, which cannot be clearly and explicitly known. He further writes, that the natural world ‘can be known only as resistances to each human space’ (Tuan, 1979:390).
This is what happens when a couple in-love enters a beach, leave their footprints on the sand, or walk on the pier, showing one another affection. Their gentle space and time imprints last until the next tide of people and the sea washes away the loving soft embrace, security of hands holding, gentle hair stroke. These loving gestures of togetherness are often paused by separateness, lone gazing into nothingness.
Then, these re-emerge into yet another forms.
Such thresholds experienced and felt within human space, i.e. from closeness to solitude unveil within greater natural world. As Tuan (1979:390) proposes, the ‘original space is a contact with the world that precedes thinking’, and in its act, human body ‘implicates space; space coexists with the sentient body’.
For Eckhart Tolle (1997:156), a spiritual leader, space in itself “has no existence, yet it enables everything else to exist”. He further writes, that “since space is “nothing” we can say that what is NOT there is more important than what is there” (ibid.). The nothingness that is the space, mesmerises, terrifies, soothes, propels freedom and delivers relief. As it allows for all the forms to be, it also becomes a playground for liminal transformations to occur, including those of and within human spaces.
As Tolle (1997:158) writes “All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter”. The couples and families enter that space together, which then becomes a backdrop for closeness and separation to unfold and interplay.
As the Prophet Kahilil Gibran writes on space and love:
“Letthere be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls […] And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow”.
Similarly, Tolle (1997: 160) teaches us to be present and to give space to your partner for expressing himself or herself. He further clarifies, that “giving space to others and yourself - is vital. Love cannot flourish without it” (ibid.).
Moreover, the Irish Proverb says: ‘Reality is that place between the sea and the foam’. That space where the stones and sand, where the love, the memories, and the feelings are carried to a new destination, and any imprints erased. Reality becomes that very moment of turbulent movement immersion, but also a stillness of an underwater odyssey encapsulated by the beneath the surface hollow sound, again and again randomly expelling its material and emotional belongings at the new shores.
For Tuan (1979:390), ‘personal and cultural spaces are distortions’ of an objective space and such illusions are bound to undergo some form of transformations. Correspondingly, Tolle (1997:140) writes that “every form is destined to dissolve again and that ultimately nothing out here matters all that much” (Tolle, 1997:140).
This raises a question: “what remains”?
In one of his famous aphorisms, Sand and Foam, Kahilil Gibran signposts that this is the sea and the shore that will remain forever, which are the boundaries of the space:
“I am forever walking upon these shores, Betwixt the sand and the foam, The high tide will erase my foot-prints, And the wind will blow away the foam. But the sea and the shore will remain
On the other hand, the One Thousand and One Nights, Ancient Persian ‘Hazar Afsan’ tales, ‘Princess Scheherazade’, refers to the space as nothingness, and:
"When nothing existed
"When nothing existed,
Love existed, and
When nothing shall remain,
Love shall remain: it is
The first and the last".
Furthermore, Floss (1971) brings up a significance of the moments that frustrate our will and arbitraries, in other words, the very liminality thresholds. Such moments allow us to experience the non-human world, the ‘original space’ (Tuan, 1979), or the ‘nothingness’. Most importantly, as Tuan (1979:389-390) signposts, such moments “cause us to pause and pose the question of an objective reality distinct from the one that our needs and imagination call into being”.
Ultimately, what remains could be the capacity for and the very substance of liminality.
In one of the days when I was collecting the visual data at the UK coasts, I came across a family who was throwing flowers into the sea. The flowers were from a coffin of their grandma who was buried a day before. Their grandpa also happened to pass away at the very same time, but a year earlier. The family chose this coast, as they knew this was their grandparents’ favourite space which they used to visit every day.
The family kept throwing the flowers into crashing waves of the sea, then collecting them when the waves brought the flowers back to the shore, repeating the process.
All the multi-coloured roses, marigolds, daisies, and carnations soaked in water were carried by the vicious foam along the shore line, then sunken back into the cold sea waves, and released for a moment of pause on the shore to be taken back and relocated again.
"We keep throwing them into the sea, but they keep coming back, as if they didn’t want to go away just yet" – I have heard.