Threshold is a term I first learned in my highschool mythology class. The threshold, as I was taught, was where the the hero would cross into the next stage of the story and there would typically be a guardian to challenge them and make them prove their worth (at least, that’s what I remember; it’s been over five years). Later in architecture school, I would learn that threshold had a multitude of meanings, from a physical barrier to a shift in elevation to a change in material.
So what does threshold mean in this thesis? Threshold here is the thin line between the ego’s reality and a reality that allows for a childish return to play. Objectively, the realities are the same-- physically, tangibly, nothing has changed. However, the perpsective may change. A reframing of sorts.
The threshold described by this thesis is a tricky one to pin down since it differs in every situation and is not typically physical. For example, threshold when pretending the floor is lava. There is no physical or visible threshold to tell you when the floor has “become” lava, but at some point during play, you cross that threshold and begin to believe in a different reality. When you become engrossed is when you have crossed the threshold. The crossing is not a singular action, but a collection of several--an active and conscious choice to believe and see differently.
This concept exists in movies as well, probably more than you would realize (especially children’s movies). Spirited away once again exemplifies this, although in a more literal manner. Chihiro’s belief in the spirits could be a reason for her crossover into the spirit world, though her parents couldn’t see a thing. Children movies often depict mythical, imaginary, or fairy-like creatures that emulate desirable traits. Many times, they are a projection of what we want to be.
Strangely enough, this all sorta comes full circle with the normalization and common availability of VR Headsets. Virtual Reality is pretty much what this thesis is, except for the literal and physical assistance from the headset and console. Instead of giving you something to visually change your literal outlook on your surroundings, this thesis wants to almost rewire your brain into thinking like a VR system. Just reframe the surroundings yourself.
The image to the right was taken at the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s “just” a simple hallway to the next space, but it felt a lot like a portal to another world with the foliage growing around it. There’s a lot of ways to reimagine this entry, but this is a good example of a physical threshold in the terms of this thesis.