Ecomimesis is a dynamic, virtual reality (VR) environment containing animated virtual plants responsive to viewer action. The goal of the project is to use VR tools to collapse conventional distinctions between inside/outside, natural/cultural, and human/non-human to explore inter-species connections between plants and humans. The species used in the animation is Erigeron canadensis, a common urban ‘weed’ chosen for its prevalence in human crafted landscapes. Ecomimesis is inspired in part by a lesser-known text by Charles Darwin, The Power of Movement in Plants, in which Darwin documents his observations of how various plant species move as they grow. Darwin’s research laid the foundation for more recent research into the subject of “plant intelligence:” the study of the myriad ways that plants sense and respond to immediate environment. The title Ecomimesis is a term borrowed from the writings of philosopher Timothy Morton and signifies an acknowledgment of human entanglement within nature.

Sample of view within VR environment; created with Ryan Zuber, Imaging Research Center, University of Maryland Baltimore County