The “Decoding Wireless” project retraces the history of wireless technologies (summed up with the term wireless), highlights their importance in everyday life and shows their material dimension. Wireless is often taken for granted and we only notice how important it is when it’s not working – when, for instance, we cannot connect to Wi-Fi or our mobiles are “out of range”. This project aims to bring to light the hidden sides of wireless, which being so engrained in our daily habits go unnoticed. To do so, researchers from Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) and from Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI) have devised an immersive experience, structured around a series of installations, urban walks, silent events, a publication, this website and a number of other activities freely accessible in public areas of Lugano and Locarno between late June and mid-August 2019.
Today’s wireless is the result of many past choices and strategies. Tomorrow’s wireless communications is the outcome of choices we are making now. The project aims to reveal the importance of history in understandin the present and thinking about the future. Without Marconi we couldn’t understand Wi-Fi today, in short.
Do not take your everyday gestures for granted.
Many of our daily actions are automatic and taken for granted, including the use of wireless technologies. Let’s pause for a minute and consider: how did we get here? Why has wireless become essential? Since when? Why do we frantically move our thumbs across the screen of a phone for a few hours a day? Aim of the project is to deconstruct and reflect on these aspects that seem trivial.
Touching the invisible.
Wireless technologies seem to be ethereal and elusive whereas they are made of aerials, cables and wires. The project centres on the material dimension of wireless communication and shows how this invisible technology may in fact be seen and even touched.
Is “wireless” a recent or past invention? Why, in what way and how often are wireless devices used every day and which ones are they? Is “wireless” made up of light and immaterial technologies or of physical infrastructures that remain however “hidden”? Answering these three questions is among the goals of the “Decoding Wireless” project. The project aims to narrate the historical dimension of wireless technologies from the end of the 19th century up to the present day, reminding people how even the media we use nowadays have their own histories, biographies, and turning points that directed their development. Our biographies too (and not just those of physical objects) are ever more linked to wireless, and without realizing it, we spend many hours a day interacting with wireless technologies. The second goal of the project is therefore focusing on our everyday life, highlighting the role that wireless technology has been playing day by day. The third goal of the project is making visible a technology that appears to be invisible. The term wireless is often synonymous with ethereal (think of the metaphor of cloud technology) and of immaterial (right from the word “wire-less” which indicates an absence). But it isn’t so: wireless communications do go through aerials, cables, wires and tubes. Highlighting their often hidden material structure is one of the aims of “Decoding Wireless”.
Longlake Festival, Lugano. Now in its 8thedition, the international Longlake Festival, is one of the largest open-air urban festivals in Switzerland. A full month of events, ranging from music, literature, animation, theatre, dance, cinema, kids’ shows to urban art installations which will take over the streets, squares and public parks giving way to engaging meetings between artists and the public.
Info: ITA / ENG
The Guglielmo Marconi Foundation and Museum, Pontecchio Marconi. Situated at Villa Griffone, where Guglielmo Marconi first experimented with wireless telegraphy, the Foundation hosts both the Marconi Museum and a radio communication research centre.
Info: ITA www.fgm.it ; www.museomarconi.it
ENG www.fgm.en; www.fgm.en/museum
Museum of Communication, Bern. The only Swiss museum wholly devoted to communication and its history. Through exhibitions and displays it studies the effects communication and itstechnologies have had on culture and society. The Museum was recently awarded the prestigious “Council of Europe Museum Prize 2019”.
Info: ITA / ENG
Radio Museum, Monte Ceneri. The museum offers an educational itinerary through the history of radio, from Guglielmo Marconi up to the present day. In a dedicated area on Monte Ceneri, radio and television receivers, mobile phones, parts of transmitters, measurement equipment and other devices are on display. There is also a library about technology and the history of radio communication.
The USI-IMeG researchers taking part in this project are: Gabriele Balbi e Maria Rikitianskaia.
Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI) is one of the nine professional universities recognised by the Swiss Confederation. Founded under federal law, SUPSI offers more than 30 Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree courses, characterised by cutting edge education which unites classical theoretical-scientific instruction with a professional orientation. Great care is given to research, carried out in key sectors on competitively acquired projects with large European and national agencies or mandated by organisations and institutions.The Department for Environment Constructions and Design, hosts the Laboratory of Visual Culture, a centre that focuses on design theory and techniques, tools and technologies for enhancing and communicating creative works and cultural heritage. The Laboratory represents a national hub for the teaching, research and dissemination activities in the fields of interaction design and visual communication.
The SUPSI researchers and designers are: Jean-Pierre Candeloro, Giancarlo Gianocca, Valentina Meldi e Luca Morici.
The research and design team which developed the “Decoding Wireless” project is affiliated with USI and SUPSI.
We were unable to identify all the rights holders, authors of the images, and historical sources used for this project. The authors are, however, available in the event of any copyright-related issues and requests.