Enchanting Materialities: e-textiles installations for an ecosophic world
Jane Bennett's concept of enchantment materialism argues for aesthetics' role in calling for an attentiveness to the ecologies of things. In turn, such experiences of appreciation and care have the capacity to instigate an ethics of generosity (2001). In Vibrant Matter (2010), Bennett enacts this ethics by including all entities, living and non-living, in what she calls an 'onto-story' - a counter tale to the anthropocentric stories of a disenchanted world. This paper outlines how we told onto-stories through e-textiles installations, central to which are the transformative material encounters with non-human bodies. We begin with an account of working with a conglomerate of natural and electronic materials to attend to disappearing plant species in the site installation Twilight States and the Edges of Darkness (2016) for Bundanon's Siteworks. We follow with a discussion on our collaboration with unfamiliar materials to explore coral polyps as bio-archives in the multi-sensory installation Spinning World (2018) for Sydney's Powerhouse Museum. These accounts are framed within Bennett's theory of political ecology to show how material assemblages open up spaces of wonder for encountering non-human and non-living entities. The paper concludes by addressing how sentience can participate in an environmental politics for an ecosophic world.