This project has received funding from the European
Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon
2020 research and innovation programme.
Grant agreement No. 834033 AN-ICON.

2021 Interactivity


Enmeshing cloth with emotions through smart textiles and the role philosophy can play in the introduction of digital technologies

Nicola Liberati Shanghai Jiao Tong University

We live among digital technologies shaping how we relate to others and the world. Especially smart textiles will have a deep effect on how people relate and live together since fashion and clothes have always been a way to constitute ourselves in relation to society and other human beings. Thanks to smart textiles and wearable computers, it is possible to visualize the emotions a person has in real-time like by changing the colors of the cloth according to the user’s mood. However, it is not clear what the effects of the introduction of these technologies are. Moreover, it is also not clear the role philosophy can play in this societal change generated by digital technologies. What happens the moment we introduce these technologies? How can we use philosophy to address the change? This presentation aims to show the effects of smart textiles on us and in fashion and how to use philosophy to tackle effects these technologies will have on our society. Too often, we think of philosophy as an analysis looking back at something that already happened. It is time to turn our gaze and show how philosophy can look to the future.

Nicola Liberati is a philosopher aiming to go beyond the “empirical turn” to analyse the effects of new digital technologies in our society by working with engineers, designers, and artists. He is currently working as Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). He won the “Overseas High Level Talent Program [海外高层次人才计划] 2021” and other several international awards and funding like the JSPS Postdoctoral researcher (Japan), ERASMUS + (EU), the MASH’D Award at ISMAR2015, and the Best Paper by a Returning Member at SPM2014. He has more than 50 international publications, and he serves as Vice-chair for the Society for Phenomenology and Media (CA, USA) and as ethical advisor for European research projects like ERC and HORIZON2020. Before joining SJTU, he worked in Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Mexico. Newspapers and news agencies like Reuters (UK), de Volkskrant (NL)CNET (USA), and Happinez (NL) interviewed him, and commissions like UNESCO COMEST use his work highlighting the impact he has on societal issues.