Imagine Otherwise: Micha Cárdenas on Wearable Technologies for Social and Racial Justice

micha cárdenas, Imagine Otherwise blog image

Imagine Otherwise: Micha Cárdenas on Wearable Technologies for Social and Racial Justice

June 1, 2016 Podcast

What happens when we reimagine the uses of science and technology in the name of marginalized groups? Can social justice goals be at once theoretical and practical? How does collaboration vary by culture?

In this episode of Imagine Otherwise, Cathy Hannabach talks with micha cárdenas about using digital media and technology in the service of social justice, how art can enable survival, and how queer and trans communities of color are imagining and creating more just worlds.

We invite you to check out the episode, as well as the highlights and show notes below.

Guest: micha cárdenas

  • Dr. micha cárdenas is an artist/theorist who creates and studies trans of color movement in digital media, where movement includes migration, performance and mobility. cárdenas is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington | Bothell. cárdenas completed her Ph.D. in Media Arts + Practice in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. She is a member of the artist collective Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0. Her solo and collaborative artworks have been presented in museums, galleries and biennials including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the ZKM in Karlrushe, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, the Centro Cultural del Bosque in Mexico City, the Centro Cultural de Tijuana, the Zero1 Biennial and the California Biennial. cárdenas was the recipient of the first ever James Tiptree Jr. fellowship.

We chatted about:

  • Wearable technologies, including micha’s current project UNSTOPPABLE (02:00)
  • How micha’s work is driven by a combination of practical and theoretical questions (12:00)
  • Hacking and open source movements as inspirations for micha’s work (14:00)
  • Why micha works at the intersections of art, activism, and academia (00:00)
  • Collaboration as a natural and powerful part of the art process (23:00)
  • Imagining Otherwise (30:30)


  • On micha’s interdisciplinary approach: ““I think of my art process as intertwined with my engagement with theory.”
  • On the collaborative project, the Transborder Migrant Tool: “Our goal was both to reduce the number of deaths by dehydration in the US-Mexico border, but also to have this meditation on providing hospitality for migrant people who are often on the receiving end of a great deal of violence.”
  • On cultural interpretations of collaboration: “There are much older traditions where art is seen as responding to natural community needs. It’s actually western traditions of aesthetics that separate the observer and separate the artist from social needs and community needs.”
  • On imagining otherwise: “One level of my current [collaborative] work on Unstoppable is to think about a world where black trans women can leave the house safely and not have to worry about the likelihood of being murdered…When you have to spend so much of your day thinking ‘am I going to survive this day?’ it gives you little space to imagine the world that you want.”

More from micha:

Projects and people discussed:

About Imagine Otherwise:

Imagine Otherwise is a podcast about the people and projects bridging art, activism, and academia to build better worlds. Episodes offer in-depth interviews with creators who use culture for social justice, and explore the nitty-gritty work of imagining and creating more just worlds. Check out full podcast episodes and show notes at Imagine Otherwise is produced by Ideas on Fire, an academic editing and consulting agency helping progressive, interdisciplinary scholars write and publish awesome texts, enliven public conversations, and create more just worlds.

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About the author

Priyanka Kaura: Priyanka is a Marketing Associate at Ideas on Fire, as well as an education reformer in New York City who frequently traverses the private and public sectors to promote educational equity.