Abstract

Often qualified as “revolutionary,” electronic and reactive textiles are promising to bring wide-reaching changes to our existence: from the way we dress to the way we communicate, from the way we sense and are sensed to the way we build and use textiles as substrates for new applications. From a philosophical perspective, this article explores the revolutionary character of electronic and reactive textiles—in other words, what about them is “revolutionary?” Corollary questions include, “What do electronic and reactive textiles revolutionize?” and “What is it to revolutionize?” or more precisely, “What exactly is expected to be revolutionized when it comes to textiles?” The article emphasizes that with electronic and reactive textiles we are confronted with a new understanding of matter (and implicitly with new ways to manipulate and use it). The article also addresses the ways digitization not only affects the constitution of new objects (interactive objects/devices) but also produces changes in the industrial forms of production. Last but not least, we argue that the innovation aspects related to the development of new materials and their forms of production have to be addressed on different scales, by following trans-disciplinary approaches within a deliberate framework of philosophical questioning.

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