Profiles in Regeneration: Iane, 30, Brazil
Technology doesn’t always come from the future; it can be ancestral, like fermentation.
Young people all around the world are working to build a regenerative future. At 30, Iane Cabral is one of those people. She is the founder of a pop-up laboratory for creating and researching wearable technologies with an emphasis on sewing electronics, creative computing, 3D printing, and biomaterials. LAB was conceived in this temporary format as an alternative to the conscious disposal of electronic waste.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Iane Cabral: I think that since the beginning of the pandemic I haven’t been sure how to answer this question. Things are so uncertain around here that it’s hard to be okay with everything that’s going on even if you’re supposedly okay.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
IC: I have difficulty visualizing and drawing in 3D because I have keratoconus in my vision. I’ve found in contemporary arts and technology that I can explore other sensations and emotions that enhance my body and add new senses. I discovered wearables—technology that you can wear.
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
IC: While researching how to create something that is wearable but anti-surveillance technology and doesn’t normalize our loss of privacy, I found two books that are bubbling in my head: Introduction to Surveillance Studies by Julie K. Petersen and Comunidades, Algoritmos e Ativismos Digitais: Olhares Afrodiaspóricos by Tarcízio Silva, which is a compilation of articles by academics from Brazil and Africa about the relationship between race and algorithms, social media, and online communities. It’s a set of narratives with a decolonized and anti-racist perspective.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
IC: Mariele Franco! Only those who live in Rio de Janeiro know the story behind police brutality against [homeless], Black, and LGBT+ people. Mariele gave everyone a boost. Through of his political participation, he brought hope of change in the face of widespread corruption.
RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?
IC: In 2015 I started to research hybrid interfaces that are attached to the body to provide new types of interaction and relationships between people and machines. As a product of my research at the art and technology laboratory (NANO) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, I’ve co-created the wearable “Sonoplanta”—a hybrid wearable that covers the body from neck to abdomen. It includes a collar composed of plants, sensors, LED lights, and speakers. It proposes a dialogue between the outfit and the [wearer]. After “Sonoplanta” came the idea of cataloging this research on wearable technologies and making it public through an online magazine that I titled SECTOR W. What I did not imagine is that my intention to democratize access—especially for women and professionals not from the electronics industry—would not be efficient because the best way to understand something complex is to experience it. How can you understand new technologies without “hacking” them and knowing how they work inside? That was when I understood that the online magazine would become the SECTOR W LAB: a pop-up laboratory pioneered in Brazil, focused on researching and creating wearables using creative coding, biomaterials, and 3D printing.
RF: In two years’ time, what would success with your project look like?
IC: In two years we intend to obtain partners to implement the physical laboratory and online courses, and offer a methodology for companies that wish to co-create wearable technology. We want to promote a new space for fashion professionals, researchers, and artists to develop their products in an environment with intelligence and infrastructure—machines, tools, and materials for wearable projects. With online courses, we will share educational content and research new ways to create from a regenerative perspective. Consequently, we’ll develop a methodology to be used as a model or starting point for other companies.
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which would you choose and why?
IC: Certainly the educational sector because knowledge is something that, in the long term, matters in science, innovation, creativity, and sustainability.
RF: What is the best and worst thing about the education system in your country?
IC: The public education infrastructure is very precarious, which generates inequality. The best part of this system is the resistance of teachers who, despite the neglect of current public policies, are an example of creativity, commitment, and resilience.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2060?
IC: Believe in yourself! Listen to your intuition. Your body and mind tell you what you need. You are part of a whole and you must not allow people to be discriminated against by their gender, social class, race, or sexual orientation. I hope that in 2060 humans understand that we are the limiting factor on Earth. Technology doesn’t always come from the future; it can be ancestral, like fermentation. Capitalism is an anti-life system and its logic is destructive. Read the Indigenous anti-futurist manifesto Rethinking the Apocalypse: An Indigenous Anti-Futurist Manifesto published on the Indigenous Action website.
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
IC: The biofabrication movement is extremely inspiring. It has revolutionized medicine, engineering, and especially design. It is very exciting to know that biofabrication can reverse all the negative impact that the fashion industry currently leaves as a legacy.
To learn more about Regenerative List finalist Iane Cabral, click here.