SARA DOTTERER “What’s Outside is In: Virtual Worlding with Other Species”

Posted on Apr 8, 2023 in News

April 8, 2023, 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Bath House Cultural Center, Lake Level


“What’s Outside is In: Virtual Worlding with Other Species (plants, fungi and protists)” is a virtual reality experience that brings to life the lessons artist Sara Dotterer has learned from trees, plants, fungi and slime molds about healing. By exploring the cycles of growth, decay and regeneration in the lives of these species, she understands the function of her own brain and its movement between cycles of anxiety or depression and regeneration or resilience.

Trees, plants, fungi and slime molds exist in new, colorful forms within the virtual world that you will explore inside the Quest Virtual Reality headset. As you move around the world, you can use your head direction as a guide to move above and below the world– seeing its roots from the perspective of soil, or an aerial view like a bird flying above. Depending on your comfort level, you can feel free to move through the grass or sit down while exploring the vibrant world, allowing the sounds of White Rock lake to accompany your experience.

As you take off your headset surrounded by the lake, how does your view of “real” nature change? There is a text-based narrative that you will discover as you explore to understand what I have learned from my collaborations with other species. However, the only thing that you need to know before beginning is: there is no right or wrong way to explore the virtual world!

In addition to the virtual world, you can participate in augmented reality with your smartphone via a QR code displayed next to the headsets; this will allow you to see some of the parts of the virtual world in combination with the views of White Rock Lake.

Safety Note: If you have never experienced virtual reality, sometimes it can be disorienting, so we will provide chairs or you can sit on the ground. It is not required that you walk around to have the experience! There will also be a boundary created in your virtual headset so that anytime you move out of the allotted space you will be able to physically see the “real” world around you – in other words, you will feel completely safe to explore within the parameter created!

ABOUT THE ARTIST | Sara Dotterer received her B.A. in Studio Art and Anthropology at Washington and Lee University. She is now living in Dallas, Texas as a candidate for Southern Methodist University’s MFA in Studio Art.

ARTIST STATEMENT | I am a transdisciplinary artist researching the deep connection between the health of my body and the earth’s. My guiding question is: how do I visualize healing as a wholeness that is continuously ruptured and rebuilt? Whether working with fungi, plants, trees, slime molds or digital beings, I am drawn to the inherent unpredictability of these partnerships. My research highlights the idea that when working with other beings, control and predictability are surrendered, and the result is born of mutual influence and discovery. I work across media experimenting with the way that concepts and ideas develop as my means of making shifts across: printmaking, choreographing, video, foraging, inkmaking, sculpture, virtual reality, fiber and biomaterials. As I document natural processes in the more-than-human world (fungi, plants and slime molds), I use that documentation to imagine my internal world and its cycles of decay and regrowth – always fluctuating.