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IPSERIA (2023) 


VR, seating, vibrating devices, scent, aroma sculptures, neon, dimensions variable


Artist: Isabell Bullerschen, Zurich

3D Animation/Implementation: Sebastiaan Cator, London

3D Processing/Animation: Florian Baumann, Zurich

Programming: Arno Justus, Zurich

Sound: Aske Lyck Pedersen, Zurich & Copenhagen and Paloma López & Leslie García (interspecifics), Mexico City

Voice Over: Netanya Woodard, Molly Schaad 


Flute: Chantal Dubs

Scent: Andreas Wilhelm, Zurich 


Seating: Jope Schneider, Zurich

Glass Manufacturer: Niesenglass, Unterseen

IPSERIA is/are 








As a globally occurring form of life, ipseria exist/s as a mono- or multi-entity association in the mucus of vertebral organisms. Its/their features are akin to atoms, box jellyfish, slime molds, leopard slugs, or social amoebas. However, it/they possess/es an unique skill: the reproduction beyond its/their species, thus queering the concept of identity and undermining classification systems. 

The fictional character of ipseria is inspired by science historian and feminist scholar Donna Haraway’s “Camille“ (cf. Haraway: Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene). Camilles are a hybrid between human beings and monarch butterflies whose wings detect consequences of planetary exploitation. Haraway unrolls techniques of SF (science fiction, science fact, science fantasy, speculative feminism, speculative fabulation, string figures) in order to redefine our way of reasoning. According to Haraway thinking needs to be like string figures – passing on stories by connecting facts and fiction. 

Although ipseria is/are an inherent potential in humans, it/they is/are being inactivated by rational knowledge systems. Only a sensual experience can stimulate one own’s ipseria back to life. The multi-sensory mixed reality installation enables this encounter where the recipient transgresses into a virtual reality enhanced by haptic, olfactory and sound elements. By re-activating one own’s ipseria, the aim is to reconstitute the ability to imagine life through its richness of diversity with all peculiarities, fluid definitions and unstable categories.

In times of persistent discrimination based on origin, gender, race and sexuality, it is important to tell stories, evoke thought and embody knowledge in “Harawayian“ style, the mantra being “to become kin“ with all existing matter on this planet. Animals and technology need to become our chosen family, as Haraway would say. 

The artwork will be appealing to contemporary art lovers and fans of digital culture, but above all, engage with a younger audience to facilitate the mediation of theoretical content usually difficult to grasp.

An unexpected experience will await participants: a virtual reality with no digitally-generated content. Ipseria and its virtual environment have their origin in the physical realm. I have been modeling various materials like clay, plasticine and latex, as well as collecting and cultivating organic materials from nature, such as lichen or slime molds. By using 3D scanners the sculpted, collected, and grown elements are digitized, then processed in the 3D program Houdini and finally combined in the gaming software Unity to create a 360° VR experience. Hence, the virtual and physical world are intertwined. 
Predominantly propelled by white cis-men how can these techniques be used other than in games or social media still governed by the male gaze? With a post-cyberfeminist attitude my aim is to mute the impulse for racial, sexual and gender categorization and normativity in digital and physical realms. Ipseria’s concept is nurtured by French philosopher Georges Bataille. His theory about Grenzüberschreitung [crossing borders] which postulates that provoking borders can only be accomplished beyond language or everyday experiences serves as a starting point. With ipseria boundaries between these two realms are being provoked on various levels.


The recipients experience the VR on a seating shaped as a cavernous body - swollen, fleshy and pulsating. Vibration motors are connected to the game engine. Whenever the virtual replication of ipseria touches the recipient, the seating starts to vibrate. By stimulating multiple sensations the participant is never fully drawn into the virtual void, but rather lingers on the verge, in a so called Schwellenmoment [threshold moment], between the digital and physical realm. In that specific moment lies the Grenzerfahrung [border experience] which I want to provoke - a queasy feeling of hovering between crossing/not crossing constructed borders.

Smell is the one sense which enables incomparable evoking and immersion with an environment and memory.In collaboration with a perfumer, I am diving into the science of alchemy to find an odor that evokes an ambivalent mood shifting between comfort and queasiness. The smell combines human and non-human mucus and will constantly be diffused into the exhibition space by an aroma sculpture that is built in collaboration with fungus mycelium.

Just like the visual elements, the sound is derived from the physical environment. In addition to my own field recordings, I am working with the collective interspecifics (Paloma Lopez & Leslie Garcia) who are working with an instrument made up of modular synthesizers and transduction tools that record electronic impulses of microorganisms. To generate the final soundscape that I am collaborating with producer Aske Lyck Pedersen.

Text: Lorena Harauzek




The project is generously supported by

Swiss Art Council Pro Helvetia

Kanton Zürich Fachstelle Kultur

Stadt Zürich Kultur

Ernst Göhner Stiftung

Dr. Adolf Streuli-Stiftung


installation view
still 1
still 2
still 3
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