According to Wikipedia, Participation Mystique “is a term derived from Lévy-Bruhl. It denotes a peculiar kind of psychological connection with objects, and consists in the fact that the subject cannot clearly distinguish himself from the object but is bound to it by a direct relationship which amounts to partial identity.”


In Chloe Caldwell’s opening to her essay collection I’ll Tell You in Person, she describes participation mystique the following way: “I’ve learned this notion of not knowing where you end and the artist begins, while watching films and reading books, has a term: participation mystique.”


Using these definitions as a baseline for the conceptual tone of this issue, we are looking at Participation Mystique as the dissolving of boundaries between you and - something. It could be you and a piece of art/cultural experience, you and another person, you and your identity, you and an object, you and an experience. Not knowing where you end and another thing starts. It’s about your relation to these things becoming less rigid and more fluid, becoming absorbed and engulfed.


In this issue, we’re looking to both explore the concept of Participation Mystique and create it, by putting together a publication that immerses you in the specific, detailed and potent experiences and art of our contributors. The intensity of emotion reflected in the intensity of visuals.


We’ve broken this down into conceptual thoughts that relate to this theme and the visual tone that we’re seeking to create. When you’re developing your pitch to us, take into consideration both the concept of Participation Mystique and the visual elements of the tone.


Concepts + words


  • Feeling absorbed by something, having it seep into you
  • Imaginary landscapes within you and in your mind
  • Identity boundaries
  • The self-reflexive nature of creating, of pulling from your own life
  • What does it mean to participate?
  • Self-portraiture
  • Being an observer of your own life
  • Feeling at home and drawn towards a crowd/group of people or repelled/isolated within them
  • Connecting with a person to the point where you’re congealed, feeling inside another person, or feeling incredibly disconnected
  • Feeling like you’re a character in a narrative, or that you are the main character of something you are reading/watching/consuming
  • Forgetting you’re in your own body or becoming extremely aware of your two separate selves, the “you” inside and your physical form, feeling like you’re having a conversation between those two parts
  • Kind of gory, kind of lusty, extreme emotions
  • Feeling like an event encompasses a part of your identity, good or bad
  • Reading/listening to/watching something that touches you so deeply it physically pains you
  • Porn, sex scenes. The delicacy of intimacy. Handwritten letters, emails, texts.
  • Virtual reality. Indulging or refraining from this. Softness in relation, in reaction.
  • Cosmophagy. In Wayne Koestenbaum’s My 1980s: “Susan Sontag defined the word cosmophagy as “the devouring of the world by consciousness.” Sontag had a cosmophagic voracity for aesthetic experience.” Eating the world.
  • Being disgusted by something but simultaneously being fascinated by it, like reading about crimes or watching a doctor stitch someone up
  • Too much of a gorgeous thing become disgusting, too much of a disgusting thing being/coming from gorgeousness - existing within extremes




  • Evergreen, inky blues, burnt orange, lushness
  • The marriage of delicate elegance, prettiness, with vulgarity, gore and grossness
  • Textured artwork, the softness of fabrics, the way fabric is painted, the way cloth is sculpted in stone
  • Fist fights, bloody teeth from being punched in the mouth, black eyes, bruises
  • Sexual, shiny fruits & rotting fruit
  • Glistening plants
  • Broken teeth, cuts and scrapes, bones
  • Intense feelings of love, sexuality, twists of confusion, mixed signals, plunging into a feeling
  • “I wanna lick all the skin off your body, baby.”
  • Dream sequence in Heathers
  • Renaissance paintings, soft gobs of paint
  • Flora & fauna: doves, earthworms, foxes, tigers, ferns, decomposition
  • Physical reactions: swooning, fainting, puking, bleeding
  • Gorging yourself on something: Marie Antoinette ‘I Want Candy’ scene
  • Sweat, makeup running, greasy hair
  • When people start looking like smudges of themselves, hot and sticky in the nighttime


Olivia Bee, Unknown, Nan Goldin, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Gentileschi, Unknown, James Marcus Haney, Unknown, Unknown, Amrita Sher-Gil, Frank Ocean, Stevie Nicks, Unknown, Hayley Louisa Brown, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, James Marcus Haney, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Poussin, Studio 54, Unknown, Jordyn McGeachin, The Dreamers, Alfred Stieglitz, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown.


We tried to find the sources of all of our mood board pictures, but some of them are just from the internet and we cannot trace them. If you know who any of these belong to and would like to attribute credit or would like them taken down,  please let us know.


Are you interested in having your work featured in Plasma Dolphin?


Send us an email at and include the following:


  • your name
  • your location
  • a short bio (1-3 sentences) about yourself
  • a photo of yourself that you’d like to be on the contributors page (optional)
  • website/social media linking to your work
  • a pitch for a piece for the issue we are currently accepting submissions for


As you can read about in our About Us section, Plasma seeks to create a cohesive publication that has a consistent curated tone to it, while at the same time preserving and showcasing each contributors voice. Due to this, our process involves working closely with the editors on your piece. Please first send pitches before drafts! If your current pitch doesn't match with the current theme, you can re-pitch it for a later issue or talk to us about how you could re-work it to fit with the issue better. We're working towards making the best publication we possibly can and are excited to see what you come up with!

© Plasma Dolphin. All rights reserved. We work hard on this stuff. Be cool about it.


If you’d like to be part of the Plasma Dolphin team (for example, if you’d like to contribute something for the next issue), we’d love to hear from you! E-mail us!


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Have a dope day and keep rockin'.