material futures, soft technologies, adaptive surfaces, smart textiles, digital materials, wearables

Digital Materials

The project introduces the fiction of “Digital Materials” and aims to show how an iterative process of describing, analysing and prototyping textile materials might contribute to the creation of non-determined forms of tangible interaction between humans and digital technologies. The idea of designing “Digital Materials” is driven by continuous sensory experiences of the physical world entering into a dynamic engagement with the infinite discrete possibilities of the digital world.

The term “Digital Materials” refers to a speculative situation in which digital processes are embodied directly in physical structures, which enables materials to transform dynamically and in a self-acting way and in which humans tangibly interact with such digitally infused materials. The exploration is carried out with textiles, because textiles share an intimate relationship with the body, offer versatile haptic and functional properties and their binary construction principle is historically connected to the development of computers.

In addition to the possibility of future interaction scenarios, the project is primarily concerned with the investigation of the basic elements that underlie its conception. Therefor the fundamental principles of relations between the analog and the digital within material structures are examined through a closely intertwined process of prototyping and reflection.

The approach of the research project  “Digital Materials” converts the understanding of digital technologies as tools to an understanding of digital technologies as materials. This conceptual shift allows to concentrate on the interaction process itself rather than focus on its results. The project explores the question of how materials might be (re)developed, (re)constructed and (re)used in such a way that digital information may be absorbed by the materials and expressed in (dynamic) manifestations or self-transformation of the materials.

PhD candidate:
Veronika Aumann

PhDArts Leiden University, NL
Prof. Dr. Janneke Wesseling
Prof. Dr. Alice Twemlow

weißensee kunsthochschule berlin
Prof. Dr. Zane Berzina
Prof. Dr. Jörg Petruschat


PhDArts, international doctorate programme in art and design, is a collaboration between Leiden University Academy of Creative and Performing Arts and the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague