Micha Cárdenas

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Micha Cárdenas
Micha Cárdenas.jpeg
Allied Media Conference 2012 Opening Ceremony
EducationUniversity of California, San Diego
Known forPerformance

Micha Cárdenas, stylized as micha cárdenas, is an American visual and performance artist who is an assistant professor of art and design, specializing in game studies and playable media, at the University of California Santa Cruz.[1] Cárdenas is an artist and theorist who works with the algorithms and poetics of trans people of color in digital media.

Artwork and performances[edit]

Cárdenas has presented her work around the world, including keynote performances at the 2015 Association of Internet Researchers Conference,[2] 2014 Digital Gender workshop at Umeå University in Sweden,[3] 2013 Dark Side of the Digital Conference[4] and 2012 Allied Media Conference,[5] performances at the 2012 Zero1 Biennial in San Jose,[6] and the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics 7th Encuentro in Bogotá, Colombia[7] and collective exhibitions at the 2010 California Biennial,[8][9] and the 2009 Mérida Biennial.[10] In 2008, cardenas performed Becoming Dragon, a 365 hour mixed reality performance in Second Life.[11] Recent projects include "Unstoppable" (a collaboration with Patrisse Cullors, Chris Head and Edxie Betts to create no-cost bulletproof clothing),[12] Local Autonomy Networks, [13] and virus.circus (a collaboration with Elle Mehrmand).[14] She has curated exhibits in Los Angeles, New York, and Tijuana.[15][16][17] cárdenas' work Sin Sol, Forest Memory (2018) created in collaboration with Abraham Avnisan, was included in the group exhibition, “Between Bodies,” curated by Nina Bozicnik, at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, October 27, 2018 — April 28, 2019[18] and reviewed in Art in America, March, 2019[19] and The Seattle Times, January, 2019.[20]

As a member of the Electronic Disturbance Theater/b.a.n.g. lab,[21] cárdenas helped design the Transborder Immigrant Tool, a GPS device designed to guide immigrants illegally crossing the US-Mexico border and to help them find water stations during their journey.[22] cardenas argued the aim of this project was "about giving water to somebody who's dying in the desert of dehydration."[23] Critics claimed the project was an irresponsible use of government funds, and a tool that would assist illegal activity, such as smuggling.[21] Ultimately, all investigations of the project were dropped without finding any misuse of funds or illegal activity on the part of the artists.[24]

Books and writings[edit]

Cárdenas's first book, co-authored with Barbara Fornssler in 2010, Trans Desire / Affective Cyborgs, discusses an experimental conception of politics based in desire.[25]

In 2012, Cárdenas co-authored The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities, co-edited by Zach Blas, was published by Atropos Press. The book discusses art, games and activism that use multiple realities, including augmented reality, mixed reality, and alternate reality approaches.[26] In 2013, cárdenas's poetry and a statement on poetics was published in the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics by Nightboat Books. The editors describe the book as the first anthology of transgender and genderqueer poetry.[27] In 2014, Cárdenas published an essay titled "Movements of Safety" in the book Plants, Androids and Operators: A Post-Media Handbook by Mute Publishing. The book includes essays from numerous theorists and artists working in the Post-Media Lab at Leuphana University.[28]

In 2015, her article "Shifting Futures: Digital Trans of Color Praxis" was included in Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.[29] "Redshift and Portalmetal,"[30] "Pregnancy: Reproductive Futures in Trans of Color Feminism,"[31] "QueerOS: A User’s Manual,"[32] and "Trans of Color Poetics: Stitching Bodies, Concepts, and Algorithms"[33] were published in 2016.

In December, 2017, MIT Press published Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility,[34] which contains Cárdenas's chapter "Dark Shimmers: The Rhythm of Necropolitical Affect in Digital Media. In this work, she "engages . . . a few moments of time in the months of June and July 2016, during which extreme violence against trans, black, and Latinx people occurred repeatedly, rhythmically."[35]

Cárdenas has published several works related to the theoretical issues raised in her performances including "Becoming Dragon, A Transversal Technology Study"[36] in the 2013 book Critical Digital Studies from University of Toronto Press,[37] and "I Am Transreal" in the 2010 book Gender Outlaws the Next Generation, edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman.[38] Additional published works include the 2010 essay "Technesexual Interface: Erotic Mixed Reality Performance,"[39] co-authored with Elle Mehrmand.

Most recently, "Monstrous Children of Pregnant Androids: Latinx Futures after Orlando" was published in January, 2018.

Teaching and research[edit]

Previously, Cárdenas was Assistant Professor of Interactive Media Design and Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell.[40] cárdenas was also a Lecturer in the Visual Arts Department[41] and Critical Gender Studies Program[42] at UCSD in 2009 and 2010. She was previously the Interim Associate Director of Art and Technology for the Culture, Art and Technology program at UCSD[43] and a researcher at the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts, CalIT2 and the UCSD School of Medicine.[44] cárdenas worked in the Experimental Game Lab at the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts on the Scalable City project.[45]


Cárdenas earned her PhD at the University of Southern California in the Media Arts and Practice program where she was a Provost Fellow.[46] She received her MFA at the University of California, San Diego in the summer of 2009. She also holds a Master's degree in Media and Communications from the European Graduate School and a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Florida International University.


  1. ^ "micha cárdenas Faculty Page at University of California Santa Cruz".
  2. ^ "Association of Internet Researchers Website".
  3. ^ "Digital Gender Workshop, Sweden, Abstracts and workshop programme". Archived from the original on 2014-09-15.
  4. ^ "Dark Side of the Digital, University of Michigan, Milwaukee".
  5. ^ "AMC2012 Opening Ceremony: Experiments in the Species Self".
  6. ^ Sarah Beth (July 17, 2012). "eMERGE, The ZERO1 Street Festival".
  7. ^ "Micha Cárdenas and Elle Mehrmand". Hemi.nyu.edu. August 22, 2009. Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  8. ^ "Another Righteous Transfer, Not the Same Old Song and Dance: Recent Encounters with Karen Adelman and Flora Wiegmann". Anotherrighteoustransfer.wordpress.com. February 15, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  9. ^ Hart, Hugh (November 15, 2010). "Screw-Embedded Football 'Breathes' on Respirator". Wired. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  10. ^ "Biennale: Arte Nuevo Interactiva '09". Yucatantoday.com. Archived from the original on March 21, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  11. ^ Hello, Guest (December 21, 2008). "Online-world immersion probes possibilities of transformation, San Diego Union Tribune, by Scott LaFee". .signonsandiego.com. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  12. ^ "Seattle Weekly, A UW Professor's Mission to Build Affordable Bulletproof Gear for Trans Folk". Archived from the original on 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  13. ^ "Feature Interview: Micha Cardenas".
  14. ^ "MCA Presents Here Not There, Will Bowen, sdnews.com". Sandiegonewsroom.com. Archived from the original on June 11, 2016. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  15. ^ HOUSE OF ART: Lui Velazquez, Derrik Chinn, SignOnSanDiego.com, San Diego Union Tribune[dead link]
  16. ^ "The Coming Disturbance -we're coming you should come too". Archived from the original on December 24, 2013.
  17. ^ "Collective Alchemy: Performance Night at USC". USC School of Cinematic Arts. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013.
  18. ^ "Henry Art Gallery, Exhibitions, Between Bodies". Henry Art Gallery.
  19. ^ Nguyen, Minh (March 11, 2019). "In This Mess Together: Interspecies Entanglements at Henry Art Gallery". Art in America.
  20. ^ Clemans, Gayle (January 1, 2019). "'Between Bodies' at Henry Art Gallery asks us to consider the natural world through different lenses". The Seattle Times. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  21. ^ a b Rhett, Joshua (April 7, 2010). "Critics Blast Transborder Immigrant Tool As 'Irresponsible' Use Of Technology". Fox News. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  22. ^ "AJE". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  23. ^ Spagat, Elliot (December 30, 2009). "Activists want to give GPS to immigrants | Wichita Eagle". Kansas.com. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  24. ^ "Interview with Ricardo Dominguez, Zach Blas, Reclamations Journal". Reclamationsjournal.org. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  25. ^ "e-misferica, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, NYU". Hemi.nyu.edu. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  26. ^ Cárdenas, Micha; Blas, Zach; Schirmacher, Wolfgang (2011). The transreal : political aesthetics of crossing realities. [New York]. ISBN 9780983915249. OCLC 780190383.
  27. ^ "Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics". nightboat.org. Archived from the original on 2018-05-13. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  28. ^ Apprich, Clemens; Slater, Josephine Berry; Iles, Anthony; Schultz, Oliver Lerone (2014). Plants, androids and operators. [London?]: Mute Books. ISBN 978-1906496968. OCLC 883615146.
  29. ^ Cárdenas, Micha (January 2015). "Shifting Futures: Digital Trans of Color Praxis". Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology (6). doi:10.7264/N3WH2N8D. ISSN 2325-0496.
  30. ^ "Electronic Literature Collection - Volume 3". collection.eliterature.org. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  31. ^ cárdenas, micha (May 2016). "Pregnancy". TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. 3 (1–2): 48–57. doi:10.1215/23289252-3334187. ISSN 2328-9252.
  32. ^ "Debates in the Digital Humanities". dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  33. ^ "Trans of Color Poetics: Stitching Bodies, Concepts, and Algorithms". S&F Online. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  34. ^ Press, The MIT. "Trap Door". The MIT Press. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  35. ^ "micha cárdenas publishes "Dark Shimmers" and exhibits "Becoming Dragon" in Germany - December 2017 - IAS News - UW Bothell". www.uwb.edu. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  36. ^ "Becoming Dragon, A Transversal Technology Study". Ctheory.net. November 4, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  37. ^ Kroker, Arthur; Kroker, Marilouise (eds.). Critical digital studies : a reader (Second ed.). Toronto. ISBN 9781442666702. OCLC 865579218.
  38. ^ Bornstein, Kate; Bergman, S. Bear, eds. (2010-08-31). Gender outlaws : the next generation. Berkeley, California. ISBN 9781580053082. OCLC 526069032.
  39. ^ "Technesexual Interface: Erotic Mixed Reality Performance". Digicult.it. Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  40. ^ "News article from when Cárdenas was faculty at University of Washington Bothell".
  41. ^ Visiting Faculty, UCSD Visual Arts Department Archived January 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ "critical gender studies fall courses, UCSD Critical Gender Studies Program" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  43. ^ Micha Cardenas, Culture, Art and Technology Program Website Archived April 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  44. ^ "Productive confusions: learning from simulations of pandemic virus outbreaks in Second Life (Proceedings Paper)". Spie.org. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  45. ^ "Scalable City by Sheldon Brown and the Experimental Game Lab". Scalablecity.net. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  46. ^ "USC Provost Fellows". Archived from the original on 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-07-28.

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