Wireless walks

The “wireless walks” were designed to bring to life installations. They took place on July 4 and 24, 2019, in Lugano, and August 8, 2019, in Locarno. The walks demonstrated invisible and hidden wireless infrastructures, discussed the extent to which wireless has now become a central element of cities, and made participants reflect on how wireless is changing all of our lives.

We have designed the walk consisting of 8-10 stops, starting and finishing from the installations. Walks had the following few common elements (the order was variable), so the walks in Lugano and Locarno were similar but still engaged with the local context and history:
  • – At the beginning, we have always explained the aims of the project and the walk, introduced ourselves and let participants introduced themselves, and asked for consent photo for use in our social media.
  • – We presented the installations and the technical possibility to use augmented reality.
  • – We drew attention to an antenna covering the city with the broadcasting, which is typically visible and huge on a mountain, and took opportunity to introduce the history of radio in the specific city (in Lugano – talking about the old building of RSI, in Locarno – about the radio wagons transmitting live from the Festival).
  • – We have found a parabolic antenna and explained the use of satellites for communication, television broadcasting, and GPS.
  • – We drew attention to the hidden antennas of mobile networks (2G, 3G, 4G and 5G) by presenting them with the infrastructural maps and showed the continuity of the antennas’ location in the hidden urban infrastructures.
  • – We have demonstrated how antennas for the municipal and public Wi-Fi networks blend with the city environment (e.g., installed on the lamps), which we have collected information from the municipalities, electrical engineering companies, or local engineers who helped us.
  • – We have found some elements of the wireless in everyday life: ATM with the wireless connection, boom barrier with wireless control, smart garbage bins with wireless sensors, screens of arrivals of the public buses, etc.
  • – Finally, we have demonstrated local peculiarities connected to the larger history of wireless. For example, in Lugano, we presented the history of the first Eurovision ever as it took place in Lugano’s theatre Kursaal (today the Casino) and stimulated consecutive development of broadcasting antennas; in Locarno, we have found how wireless was integrated with the festival infrastructure (ticket control, voting, and Wi-Fi networks).
Almost every stop was accompanied with additional visual material, which we have printed and shown during the walk. Those materials included old photos of the antennas, buildings, illustration of the satellite communication, infrastructural maps etc. The material originated from three sources: was preliminarily collected from the historical archives and our partners, was collected from publicly available sources, such as https://map.geo.admin.ch, or was created ad hoc, such as visualisation of particular data.
The walk was prepared in two languages, English and Italian, as those were two main languages of the project, supposing that we could divide the group into two parts and alternate between languages. However, at the beginning of every walk, we have discovered that all the participants preferred Italian, and therefore the walks were conducted in Italian only. The participants had to register in advance on the website, so we had an idea of the number of participants and could design better the route for the group.