My paper Exit Strategies – Beating the (invisible) Boundary has been accepted as part of the Liminal Landscapes symposium which is going to take place at Liverpool John Moores University 1st July 2010. The paper develops some of the ideas I have been exploring in previous symposia (including PSi Interregnum, 2008 and Living Landscapes, 2009) around certain artists' inhabitation of the 'liminal landscapes' emerging at the interstice of physical and virtual worlds. In particular I am proposing to further explore the work of Kayle Brandon and Heath Bunting, for whom the navigation of space–physical and/or virtual–becomes inherently bound up with the navigation of subjectivity and questions of social identity. Within their practice the liminal landscape becomes the location or terrain within which (and according to whose terms) the formulation of the self and one’s place in the world becomes mapped out and defined; or else might be navigated differently to dominant ideological expectations.
Background to conference
Ideas and concepts of liminality have long shaped debates around the uses and practices of space in tourism. Victor Turner’s writings on ritual and communitas, Graburn’s theory of tourism as a sacred journey, or Shield’s discussion of ‘places on the margin’ have secured a well-established foothold in the theoretical landscapes of travel and mobility. The unique qualities of liminal landscapes, as developed by these and other writers on the subject, are generally held to be those which play host to ideas of the ludic, consumption, carnivalesque, inversion or suspension of normative social and moral structures of everyday life, deterritorialisation and ‘becoming’, and so on. While these arguments and tropes remain pertinent, and their metaphorical appeal evermore attractive, the extent to which these spaces provoke counter ideas of social control, terror, surveillance, production and territorialisation, invites an urgent call to re-evaluate the meanings attached to ideas of the ‘liminal’ in tourism studies. The shifting social geographies associated with these landscapes has meant that the example of the beach may equally be looked upon as a space of transnational labour, migrancy, racial tension, death, fear, uncertainty and disorientation. In addition, the appropriation of liminal landscapes by, for example, local authorities, commercial bodies and marketeers constructs an increasingly mediated or textualised space of performance that re-fashions the embodied (and embedded) spaces as lived by those who make up their diverse social fabric.