Redshift and Portalmetal

by micha cárdenas
Sound by Bobby Bray

Play at

Redshift & Portalmetal has been included in the Electronic Literature Collection Volume 3, and presented at MOMA R&D at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the HTMlles Festival of New Media in Montreal, the SCA Gallery in Los Angeles, the YYZ Artist Run Space in Toronto, Temple Contemporary in Philadelphia, Artscape Gibraltar Point on the Toronto Islands, and at the Gender, Bodies, Technology Conference at Virginia Tech. It has been taught in classes dealing with gender, electronic literature, digital humanities and environmental literature.

Redshift and Portalmetal asks: as climate change forces us to travel to the stars and build new homes and families, how do we build on this land, where we are settlers, while working to undo colonization? The story uses space travel as a lens through which to understand the experience of migration and settlement for a trans woman of color. Redshift and Portalmetal tells the story of Roja, who’s planet’s environment is failing, so she has to travel to other worlds. The project takes the form of an online, interactive game, including film, performance and poetry. I designed the interaction, wrote the text, performed the movement, and coordinated the filming in Los Angeles and Toronto. The project is built with HTML5 video, CSS and Javascript, using the Scalar e-publishing platform.



  • Dorothy R. Santos says:

    I was completely engaged and enjoyed reading through the story. I will definitely play multiple times. The first time I made choices that I wouldn’t normally make. It was cathartic, to a certain extent. The game experience along with the visuals (which are stunning) truly captivated what our future narratives might be. The overall feeling was a melancholy for me. But I actually want to play again and play as myself. Make the decisions I might make and see where I go. Overall, beautiful designed and the prose and poetics were wonderful.

  • Carrie Riehl says:

    Micha, this game is so lovely and powerful. I’m curating an exhibition this July with themes of displacement, globalization, net art, new media, and the need for an evolution in gallery practice. I think this game would be a wonderful addition to the show. Please email me if you are interested in more information. All my best, and wonderful work.

  • Scott Spicer says:


    First, I really appreciate the aesthetic visual image, audio elements and prose you selected to guide Roja through her experience(s). I also appreciate that your game challenges “the player” to literally place themselves in the shoes of another, and perhaps in the process, begin to challenge their own assumptions on race, sexual orientation, gender, immigration status, and colonialism. It is one thing to make these judgements as an outside observer, but this kind of interactive experience through narrative hopefully leads to more thoughtful self-awareness. My research interest is exploring the potential of multimodal scholarship to transform how we communicate our research. I don’t know the extent to which this kind of gaming will be formally accepted in academe, but I could see elements of this kind of digital storytelling being applied across multiple disciplines to better tell our stories.

  • Martha Gonzalez says:

    I am inspired.

  • michamayasays:

    Scalar blog post on Redshift & Portalmetal says it’s spectacular and engaging! Thank you @anvcscalar !


  • Live game playtesting as performance at the opening night of the HTMlles Feminist New Media Festival in Montreal, Quebec, November 2014. Photos by võ thiên việt.
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    Live playtesting performance at Temple Contemporary gallery in Philadelphia, October 2014 part of my artist residency at Temple University. Photos by Dustin Fenstermacher.


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