Sunday, May 20, 2007

the evolution of the new
Liminality sidebar image

I decided that, in the spirit of liminality, I would design a new sidebar image for Charles's site that better reflects what the concept of liminality is. The word comes from the Latin "limen," meaning "threshold," and is used in various fields (anthropology, religious studies, etc.) to refer to that interval during which a person is in transition between two distinct periods of life-- crossing a threshold, so to speak.

The Korean jang seung, hilarious wooden threshold guardians usually found in pairs at a trailhead, seemed like a great representation of the limen. Instead of stealing an image from online, I decided to draw the jang seung myself. They're about the size of totem poles and are usually seen in pairs, often male/female pairs as indicated by the Chinese characters on their fronts. Because I knew I would be creating a sidebar image only 150 pixels wide, I decided to dispense with the Chinese on the front (usually "ch'eon-ha dae jang-gun" for the male, and "ji-ha yeo jang-gun" for the female).

So I scanned the jang seung posts along with the Chinese characters "gyeonggyae-seong," which is the term Charles has coined for "liminality."* A "gyeonggyae" is a border; "seong" means "state, nature, property," etc. It's a bit like the nominalizing endings "-ness" or "-ence" or "-ity" in English. I know "seong" from the Buddhist term "bul seong," or Buddha-nature (some say "buddhahood"). Anyway, "gyeong gyae seong" is literally "border-ness," as Charles tells me.

Here's the design I started working with:

Unfortunately, I discovered that the above design didn't reduce well when I scrunched everything down to 150 pixels. It was a tough decision, but in the final design, I decided to chop off one of the jang seung, and ended up with the following:

I wish I could have included both posts, but that was impossible.

This sidebar image has the distinction of being taller than the 200 pixels I normally assign to such images. It's 238 pixels tall, making it similar to some of the "old school" images still on my sidebar-- the ones I had made before standardizing the 200-pixel height.

Just a reminder: my previous Liminality sidebar image was simply a pic of Jeonju bibimbap stolen from Charles's photo gallery, with the Chinese characters "mun ji bang" (literally, "threshold") on the side. This is what used to represent Liminality:

No longer! Tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse, baby! Things disappear and the world moves on!

Final note: I might recycle both jang seung dudes and make them into a mug or tee shirt design, though obviously not with the Chinese "gyeonggae-seong" on there.

*Originally, Charles had been using "munjibang-seong," where "munjibang" literally meant "threshold." He decided this term didn't adequately capture what liminality was, hence the switch to "gyeonggyae-seong," which does seem to flow more easily.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesomeness times one million! You totally rocked the jangseung.

I think a T-shirt with the two jangseung (including the characters on the front) would be supercool.