Limen – Part 1: Filling the Void
Part 1 – Bridging the Gap Between Parkour & Industry
What Is Limen And Liminal?
- Limen is ‘a threshold below which a stimulus is not perceived or is not distinguished from another.’
- Liminal relates to the threshold between conscious and unconscious, it relates to the word ‘subliminal’ which describes a brain reaction too faint to be consciously experienced.
Limen is the threshold between which two, or more, different things can co-exist. However, if you place yourself on one side of a limen (or threshold) a stimulus is perceivable, on the other side, it is not. Using these concepts you can engage in a working process to create ideas, discover use cases and identify opportunities. Finding the space between things and injecting them with the core values of your discipline – for us at Ukemi Project this is Parkour. Creating spectacles without the competition, toys and games that don’t involve sitting down, and innovative design that invites the user to transgress and re-define its function as we, traceurs, do so with our environment.
How Does This Apply To Traceurs?
An analogy for traceurs would be; Imagine you are in a long corridor with an endless amount of doorways. The corridor is representative of Parkour; it’s history, philosophy, practice, culture and all the sum of its parts that make it a whole. The other side of each doorway cumulatively makes up everything else – except everything else has been atomized and divided between the different rooms.
The first room you come across contains the smallest change possible that would make them distinguishable from the corridor (parkour) and the further you get the bigger the changes. The frame around the door is limen (or threshold). You, as the traceur, carry a liminal perception (or vision) when looking through each door way. When deciding to enter you carry your perception and as you step across, the point where one foot is in each room, you create temporary liminality where ideas begin to flourish and when you enter the new room you are the only one there with knowledge of the corridor.
As the popularity of parkour soars worldwide it grows more accessible and more diluted in tandem. This is divisive for the community but creates an ‘in between’ that can be occupied to bridge these divides. It represents an endless framework of things to respond to – formed by cultures, societies, businesses, artists and the innovators who came before us.
Traceur Vision & Values is all the Stimulus you Need to Make New Things
When you engage in new ideas and projects, however, try to not make your immediate instinct to think ‘how can this become Parkour?’ The word Parkour draws too much of your attention with its multiple identities pulling the conversation towards how it’s being represented as opposed to what it actually is you are creating. Instead, look at it with the mindset of ‘what would a traceur do?’ “Being strong to be useful”, “Adapt and overcome” these aren’t just phrases, but philosophies – they are the building blocks that created everything that came after Parkour. Philosophies that when applied to a range of contexts can extend beyond the boundaries of what Parkour is.
In short, Parkour as a whole has always been very easy to misrepresent and cause friction in the community and when it is broken down it’s also very easy to apply it to pretty much anything.
Taking the First Step Down the Corridor
There are two ends of the corridor in the analogy; the end that shares more in common with Parkour than it doesn’t and the other end where it has almost no resemblance. It is the former that as a parkour coach, athlete, entrepreneur, etc. you are likely to most frequently engage with. It is also this side of the corridor where you are likely to encounter the most scrutiny from those in observation mode. Ukemi was created in 2018 and it’s then that we took our first steps down the corridor. We found ourselves in a spot that was primed for scrutiny from the Parkour community.
We took on the management and delivery of the Parkour section of an event called the Youth Urban Games. Our brief was to create a park and put together a competition as well as attract elite movers to share the stage and compete alongside Scottish traceurs under 25. After contacting our peers and community leaders for feedback, expectantly, we were told that running a competition would be extremely divisive and damaging to the scene. On one hand we agreed with all the community leaders we spoke to but on the other, as a new startup, the opportunity felt too big to pass.
The key was to identify liminal spaces to occupy – in this case the space between parkour and competition. Our aim was to create an event with positive outcomes for both the hire and the community. We listed things that we felt would most benefit the community; jams, classes, seminars, displays and gatherings. Then we set about making these work at a spectator event.