The Illuminated Space: A Personal Theory & Contemplative Practice of Media Art


by Marilyn Freeman

ISBN: 978-1-7344071-3-6
Trade Paper

280 pages
5.5″ x 8″

Now available as an E-book! Click here to find your copy.

In stock


About the Book

Winner of the 2020 Nautilus Book Award’s Gold Medal for Creativity & Innovation

In this fragmentary and fluent little gem, writer and time-based artist Marilyn Freeman offers up their own contemplative practice of dowsing for and creating “opportune moments” of insight and healing. With humor and humility, Freeman reveals their innovative approach to making video essays, a process developed over years of art-making, study and personal searching—a process of waking up again and again to the extraordinary possibilities hidden in everyday existence. Freeman introduces a theory of “evocative” practice as an alternative to the conventions of narrative and non-fiction filmmaking—a risky and rigorous engagement with form that invites the audience to participate in the creation of meaning. Their examination of the dialectical relationship of sound and image takes us far deeper than just a critical study of audio/visual media—deep into the human heart with its dark traumas and its shimmering capacity for honest and compassionate reckoning. Transgressing disciplinary boundaries and trading authority for authentic inquiry, Freeman takes us with them on a foray into time-based art that leaps and wanders from movie theaters to museums to Instagram in search of the “illuminated spaces” where we encounter ourselves and each other. This book is an essential resource for artists who question the importance of their work in these dark times, and for anyone seeking wisdom and wonder in our ordinary world.

Look Inside:

About the Author

Marilyn Freeman is a queer, interdisciplinary writer and media artist working at the intersections of social and contemplative practices. Their text and media arts essays can be found at TriQuarterly, Blackbird, NinthLetter, The Fourth Genre and Abbey of the Arts. Freeman’s films have been or are being exhibited on PBS and in movie theaters, spirituality centers, galleries and at film festivals worldwide.

Praise for The Illuminated Space

Art gives form to what we have experienced but have not found a way to express, and Freeman gives expression to what makes this act so vital. Stop, look, listen. Reflect. See how our past shapes our present and our present reshapes our past. Illuminate a dialectic. In a lyrical, devoutly modest and vibrantly alive voice, Freeman awakens us to numinous possibilities that await both in art and in the whole wide world around us. It is a book of uncommon grace.  Bill Nichols, author of numerous books including Introduction to Documentary, 3rd ed

Marilyn Freeman unfolds for us her contemplative and creative living practice of time-based media with affecting solicitude, disclosure, and exactness. By staging propitious encounters with the past and the present, the living world and inspiring films, she discloses the infinite potential of a dialectical method that seeks its own illuminated space in between sounds and images, trauma and intimacy, lyricism and playfulness, time and consciousness. Her timely book will speak to practitioners and critics alike. – Laura Rascaroli, author of The Personal Camera: Subjective Cinema and The Essay Film and How the Essay Film Thinks

In this startlingly beautiful and evocative work combining essay, poetry and prayer-like reflection, Marilyn Freeman unwinds the many elusive strands of the creative process. She urges us to wake up, to learn to love everything in the loving of one thing. Read, reflect, respond, rest becomes the practice that leads not only to deeper creativity, but also to more profound living. Through Freeman’s penetrating observations, her lucid vision, I felt as though I was hearing the voice of great mystic calling to me through time, through distance, through fog, speaking to me personally. – Judith Valente, author of several spirituality titles including How To LiveThe Art of Pausing and Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, A Spiritual Home and a Living Faith.

In “The Illuminated Space”, Marilyn Freeman draws from many different disciplines and forms, weaving these in with her own experience for the purpose of cultivating a consciousness fully awake. “Why wake up?” Freeman asks: “Because the world is beautiful. Because the world is terrible. Because we live in urgent times with no time to spare.” This pursuit of what she has coined “the illuminated space” is so beautifully serious and authentic it almost takes my breath away. Authoritative and yet vulnerable and evocative, this book is more than just art theory, philosophy, or a gentle guide towards holistic healing. It is a lifetime companion that invites continued participation, giving the reader a sense of agency and evoking new layers of meaning with each subsequent reading. – Gabriel Molinaro, Songwriter/Musician and Pastor/Sanctuary Church

The Illuminated Space is lyrical poetic tribute to queer independent and experimental film. It is such a joy. It demonstrates a life long healing practice that is deeply personal and deeply cinematic. – Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, Willa Cather Professor of English & Film, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Freeman’s ILLUMINATED SPACE is an entry point into awareness and imaginative capability. The space-time of her vertical depth is a realm of change and becoming, of dissolution and creation—a space in which one can begin to see, feel, and think freshly and freely.” – Marlie McGovern, Rain Taxi, Winter 2020

Additional information

Weight 16 oz
Dimensions 8 × 5.5 × .75 in

You may also like…