Decoding wireless: a project for Lugano and Locarno to understand the world of wireless

Advertising Natel Commander C, 1988. Source: Technische Mitteilungen PTT, Museum of Radio, Monte Ceneri.
Advertising Natel Commander C, 1988. Source: Technische Mitteilungen PTT, Museum of Radio, Monte Ceneri.

Institutional Communication Service

17 June 2019

Wireless connection is often taken for granted: we realise how important it is only when it stops working, or when our phones have no reception. This technology is however profoundly shaping our society and our habits to the point that it can be considered a distinctive feature of the contemporary world.

USI Institute of Media and Journalism and SUPSI Laboratory of Visual Culture have launched the project “Decoding wireless” to delve into the impact of such technology also under an anthropological point of view. With the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation, the aim is to retrace in a simple and interactive way the history of wireless technology, through and immersive experience of installations, city walks, events, and publications.

The journey will begin in Piazza Indipendenza, Lugano, from 28 June to 24 July, where it will be possible to visit (free entrance 24/7) the two installations: “storia (in)visibile del wireless” (the (in)visible history of wireless) and “No Wi-Fi zone“. Thanks to a timeline, visitors will be able to retrace those moments in history that left a mark in the development of wireless communication from the end of the 19th Century until today. Such moments will be brought to life on the visitor’s smartphone through augmented reality. Two “Wireless walks” will also be held in Lugano on 4 and 24 July at 6 pm. During these two informal gatherings, researchers will take participants on a walk around the city in search of hidden wireless infrastructures. The “Macchina del tempo radio” (Radio time machine) will close the line-up of events by the shores of Ceresio Lake. It will be an unusual way to experience once more old radio shows with wireless headphones. The event will be held on 23 and 24 July from 10 am to 6 pm at the Darsena, Parco Ciani.

The two installations will be on display from 31 July to 17 August near the Rotonda, Locarno, where a “Wireless walk” will also take place (8 August). On the same days, from midnight to 3 am weekdays, and from 2 am to 3 am on weekends, a session of "silent disco" will be held near the Rotonda: a full immersion in the wireless world, with loads of good tunes, courtesy of laRotonda and sponsored by Swisscom.  

The project is the result of the collaboration between Prof. Gabriele Balbi of USI Institute of Media and Journalism and Dr. Jean-Pierre Candeloro of SUPSI Laboratory of Visual Culture. Numerous partners: Archive PTT, Bern; Fondazione e Museo Marconi, Pontecchio Marconi; Locarno Film Festival, Locarno; Longlake Festival, Lugano; Museum of Communications, Bern; Museo della radio, Monte Ceneri; RSI - Radiotelevisione svizzera di lingua italiana, Besso and Comano.


For more information and to subscribe to the walks: