Elysia liminalis is a new hybrid species designed to cross the border between two realities.
A species that inhabits the threshold between tangible physical spaces and virtual immersive environments.

Elysia liminalis

Worlds that never were

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were.
But without it we go nowhere.

Carl Sagan, Cosmos ch. 1, 1980.


Elysia is one of the most surprising and wonderful organisms that inhabit our oceans. These small sea slugs can be found throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans in temperate and tropical waters. Members of this fascinating group feed on a variety of species of algae that they pierce with their toothed radula, but instead of fully digesting the entire cell contents, they use the algae's chloroplasts to carry out photosynthesis, a function that seemed to be reserved for plants. Photosynthesis is a chemical process that consists of the conversion of light energy into chemical energy that can later be released to fuel the organism's activities. Elysia steals the cellular motors of algae to obtain energy directly from the sun.

The process was discovered in 1979 in Elysia chlorotica and is known as kleptoplasty. The extensive digestive system of this small mollusk retains only the chloroplasts and integrates them into its own intestinal cells, keeping them alive and functional for many months. At first the slug needs to feed continually on algae to retain the chloroplasts, but over time they become more stably incorporated into the cells of the gut. This surprising strategy allows the slug to capture energy directly from light, as most plants do. When the algae do not provide a continuous food source, Elysia chlorotica can survive for months on this energy supplement.

Elysia liminalis
Elysia liminalis

Inspired by this fascinating creature, part mollusk and part algae, Carlos Alonso Pascual has designed Elysia liminalis, a new hybrid species that lives on the threshold between two kingdoms, a cultural mediator that invites us to adopt an adaptive vision that, instead of solve problems, allows us to explore polarities.

Between two worlds

Between two worlds life hovers like a star,
Twixt night and morn, upon the horizon's verge:
How little we know that which we are!
How less we may be!

Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto XV, 1879.


The word liminal comes from the Latin word limen, which means "threshold". Liminal objects inhabit the complex and ambiguous frontier that opens between the past and the future, between the known and the unknown. At that threshold, during the transition between the two realities, the previous order dissolves creating a fluid and malleable situation that allows the exploration and establishment of new shared beliefs.

Elysia liminalis Elysia liminalis
Elysia liminalis

The concept of liminality was first developed in the early 20th century by French anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep and later expanded upon by Victor Turner in his studies of ritual process. Turner understood liminal objects as «entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial».

In a recent article published in DI-CONEXIONES, Carlos Alonso Pascual explores these enigmatic and disturbing objects that indicate open portals: «creativity and innovation flourish synergistically at the borders of systems, where the links that maintain the dominant pattern are weakest».

Like the fascinating creatures it is inspired by, Elysia liminalis is a hybrid armchair that dwells on the border between two worlds. A border created by traditions and cultural biases that have ended up building a wall between humans and nature.

Elysia liminalis Elysia liminalis: Dimensions

The Farthest Shore

And though I came to forget or regret all I have ever done, yet I would remember that once I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset above the western isles; and I would be content.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore, 1972.
Elysia liminalis


Janus is one of the oldest and most influential Roman deities. This god presided over everything related to limits and is easily recognizable by his most characteristic attribute: the two faces that look in opposite directions. Janus, mediator between worlds and custodian of doors and thresholds, is a god of transition, who looks to the past with one face and the future with the other. Protector of paths and explorers, Janus is the god of changes and transformations.

Elysia liminalis is proposed as a creature of Janus, a cultural mediator that helps us eliminate all the layers of abstraction that have separated humans from nature. A liminal object that pushes us to question our certainties. But, above all, Elysia liminalis is a mutagen, an agent that promotes the mutations that we urgently need to face the challenges that we already have at our doors.

Elysia liminalis

#design #hybridreality #sensemaking #biophilia #inspiredbynature #bioinspiration #liminality #liminalspaces #liminalobjects #metaverse #NFT

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