Poetic Operations Collaborative (POC)
The Poetic Operations Collaborative (POC) is a design research lab at the University of Washington Bothell directed by Assistant Professor Dr. micha cárdenas. Including both graduate and undergraduate researchers, POC focuses on applying technological creativity to social justice. Current research projects use arts-based research practice to develop new technologies focused on safety and health for marginalized communities.
At the 2015 Allied Media Conference opening ceremony, Patrisse Cullors asked “what would technology for black lives be,” while wearing a shirt designed by Foremost and Damon Turner with the words BULLETPROOF #BlackLivesMatter emblazoned across her chest in gold. Inspired by this idea, micha cárdenas, Patrisse Cullors, Edxie Betts and Chris Head are collaborating to develop UNSTOPPABLE, a set of materials and processes for producing DIY bulletproof clothing at low to no cost. UNSTOPPABLE is art as intervention. The artists have developed a set of instructions for making these garments for wide dissemination.
These clothes and prototypes will be the basis for a series of workshops, round tables and conversations about direct action approaches to ending the murder of black people, in particular black trans women, at universities and community centers around the US, and wherever there is interest in hosting these conversations. The project name comes from the words of Sylvia Rivera, a trans latina leader of the movement for liberation for transgender people, who said “a lot of heads were bashed [at Stonewall]. But it didn’t hurt their true feelings — they all came back for more and more. Nothing — that’s when you could tell that nothing could stop us at that time or any time in the future.” The idea also refers to the idea of that firearms’ capacity to cause harm is called stopping power. We are unstoppable.
Science fiction stories in films and games such as Hunger Games and The Last of Us, depict a future in which the police kill people en masse with immunity. These stories are our reality now. The police are killing black people with impunity. While a larger movement to change ideas and laws is of the utmost importance, UNSTOPPABLE is an intervention now to stop the bullets from killing black people. UNSTOPPABLE also responds to the apocalyptic state of the environment by recycling materials discarded by the auto industry, an abundant source of waste that can be reused to save lives.
Visit the Unstoppable website: http://werunstoppable.com
#stronger aims to develop a decolonial vision of futures of health, fitness and strength for trans and gender non-conforming people. Current models of health that are used to design fitness technologies such as mobile phone apps are based on outdated conceptions of gender and sexuality. Many people today do not relate to the images of fitness in popular culture, such as LGBTQI people, older people, and female athletes. If fitness and health technology designers even acknowledge people who don’t fit easily into gendered standards, their efforts to do so are often harmful and alienating. Based on years of research by Dr. cárdenas into bioart, wearable sensors, and bioinformatic technologies, POC is developing new models for technologies that promote fitness and health for communities that do not fit into gender binaries, and are not served by current health technologies. While a primary health concern for transgender people continues to be murder, violence and incarceration, we propose that trans people can be safer if they can increase their overall physical, mental and spiritual health.
To date, #stronger includes interviews with trans women and medical professionals, biometric data recordings, an app prototype integrating Apple HealthKit and the Apple Watch, and a personal exploration by Dr. cárdenas of gaining strength through CrossFit, overcoming years of trauma in fitness spaces. The project is inspired by Cassils, Roldiboi Fitness, Peacock Rebellion, Steph Gaudreau, Edxie Betts, Gloria Anzaldúa and Audre Lorde among many other people working on healing projects for queer and trans people of color.
Local Autonomy Networks (Autonets) is an artivist project focused on creating networks of communication to increase community autonomy and reduce violence against women, LGBTQI people, people of color and other groups who continue to survive violence on a daily basis. The networks are both online and offline, including handmade wearable electronic fashion and face to face agreements between people. Autonets considers how movement is a technology and how dance and performance can be used to develop networks for community based responses to violence. The project was started by micha cárdenas but expanded into an ecology of artists, hackers and activists. Autonets includes a line of mesh networked electronic clothing with the goal of building autonomous local networks that don’t rely on corporate infrastructure to function, inspired by community based, anti-racist, prison abolitionist responses to gendered violence. The Autonets garments are prototype that use mesh networking to alert everyone in range who is wearing another Autonets garment that someone needs help and will indicate that person’s proximity. Autonets workshops and performances have included trans and gender non-conforming people of color in LA, artists and students in São Paulo, sex workers in Toronto and queer youth of color in Detroit.
Visit the Autonets website: http://autonets.org