Year: 2022      Type: Research and Experience Design      Deliverables: Research, Metal work, Coding

‘Borderline‘ is a research project that seeks to explore different ways to experience this unknown space of nothingness.

A concept was developed that situates the experience of nothingness not in its opposite extreme of perception, but in the brief moment when we cross the border from one perception to the other. This allows us to have the experience of nothingness, which occurs in a brief moment when we cross the boundary of our perception. This theory led to the development of various mirror projects that represent the respective partial aspects of nothingness

Mirror Experiences:

1 – We dissolve by exploring the border
2 – We become one with the mirror by breaking the borderline
3 – We overstimulate to the peak to fall into nothingness
4 – We dissolve in taste to end up in nothing

But as soon as we attempt to hold onto or strive for these experiences, we lose them.  Nothingness remains a fleeting experience that eludes closer examination. It is devoted to the moment and is determined on our ability to cross borders.

Project 1 | Between the Borderline

What exactly does it mean to be existent (visible) and to be non-existent (not visible)? Is it possible to perceive oneself even though there are signs that one is no longer perceptible? Is one‘s existence bound to this perception? 

In the context of a polar worldview, the question arises whether nothingness is the opposite of existence and perception? This consideration served as a starting point for my initial investigations regarding my Master’s topic. If everything that can be experienced lies within the spectrum of perception, then nothing must be in its absence. Building on this thesis, another question follows: Is it possible to free oneself from sensory perceptions in order to experience nothingness? It was already clear to me from previous studies that the absence of a sense, such as the sense of sight, is not equate to nothingness in its absoluteness. Usually, a different, new perception takes the place of this “emptiness.”

If we ask ourselves these questions and consider the two opposite poles of existence and non-existence, it seems reasonable to assume that there is this moment of transition in the middle of these opposite poles. That small moment in which the boundary between perception and non-perception and between existence and non-existence becomes  discernible and perceptible.

Picture study

The point at which everything vanishes and no longer exists. All of the images capture this brief transition between the two extremes. The moment of transition, the merging into a new perspective or existence. But how can this border be made more palpable and easily to be experienced? In this context, the idea of the mirror was born. Because we only truly disappear when we witness it – To be able to reflect on one’s own experience.

The result is a booklet with a series of photos accompanied by quotations and small text extracts.
Download here

Outcome and Exhibition

When someone looks in a mirror, they see an image of themselves. If this picture vanishes from the mirror, its self perception changes. The mirror, which usually reflects everything, no longer casts the viewer.

This phenomena is investigated by means of the mirror design, which reveals this perceptual boundary until it dissolves. The mirror‘s elongated shape encourages the spectator to glance at himself as he passes. The spectator briefly „dissolves“ when their reflection disappears into the centre of the mirror. This lack of self-perception in the mirror exemplifies the moment of nothing- ness. It invites the viewer to play with the boundary between his own existence and nothingness. 

In that brief moment when the reflection is distorted and pulled into nothingness, there is a fleeting moment of stillness, of reorientation – of nothingness.
Our brain needs time to adjust, check the other senses, and ensure that one still exists despite the absence of the mirror image. 

Project 2 | Dissolution of the Borderline

How can we prolong this border point?

According to Nishida Kitaro a Japanese philosopher, a pure experience is one in which there is no separation between the inside and the outside, between the subject and the object.  A room where there is no judgment.

When we gaze in the mirror, however, we cannot just disregard the reflection of ourselves. So it is not a question of losing the ability to see oneself, but rather of disappearing by ceasing to judge oneself. 

The Ganzfeld effect succeeds in expanding our consciousness by depriving us of stimuli (under-stimulation). However it fails to reduce us to nothingness. So what happens then if we do the reverse and continuously feed new stimuli to the eye (multiplication).

Outcome and Exhibition

This approach is tackled with the medium of another mirror. This time the person who is walking or standing by the mirror is captured and repeatedly printed on the mirror every second. As a result, the mirror becomes covered in a vast number of overlapping reflections. As she becomes the mirror himself, looking behind the reflection and dissolving into its reproduction, the spectator is forced to adopt a new point of seeing. In a way, the spectator surrenders and is subsequently overwhelmed, conquering the extreme and discovering themselves on the other side of the mirror.