Decoding Wireless. An immersive and interactive experience to unveil the meanings, the (infra)structures and the historical construction of an omnipresent technology
Wireless is one of the most used and popular keywords in communication and, extensively, in contemporary societies. Many of our everyday activities are linked to wireless (from a simple chat through telephone to accessing information on the Web, from booking a flight to ordering a pizza), hence we tend to take it for granted, unless the connection does not work. Similarly, we tend to underestimate the material dimension of wireless: the network of cables, servers, and invisible rays that are literally linking contemporary cultures. Wireless and its cultural relevance did not emerge out of the blue, because the acceptance of this technology has followed a long term and historical path and it took decades before wireless communications were politically regulated, economically exploited, technically standardised and culturally accepted. This project aims to increase the public’s confidence in questioning and curiosity toward wireless according to three fundamental tensions: visible/invisible, material/immaterial and hidden/disclosed. The main idea is to engage the public in real-world physical experiences driven by emotions, unexpected discoveries, challenges of unknown frontiers and an open and informal discussion with us, the researchers. Our communication concept combines a mix of off-line formats - merging science with entertainment, thus providing both a cultural and an emotional context for the scientific topics to be discussed - and on-line actions: 1) a travelling outdoor exhibition driven by interactive visual communication solutions designed to poke the public’s curiosity and immediately engage the audience attention; 2) an emotional and immersive urban walk-through tour into the hidden physical and immaterial world of the wireless infrastructure; 3) a printed booklet accompanying the travelling exhibition and the walk-through tour that frames what the audience experienced in its underlying technological complexity, the wider socio-cultural implications and historical background; 4) on-line tools: website, social media platforms and digital toolkit deployed in order to reach out to the broader community, support a two-way audience engagement and disseminate the project’s results and experiences even after the funding period. Targeting both “digital natives” (teenagers aged 13-19, young adults aged 18-25) and “digital immigrants” (aged 26-74), the main geographical scope of the project is defined by the Swiss Italian public of residents and city users (students, workers, and commuters), but also tourists visiting Southern Switzerland. In order to maximize the audience reach we will strictly collaborate with well established territorial partners promoting the crowd-drawing public events of Southern Switzerland: Lugano’s LongLake Festival and the LocarnoExperience event, promoted by world famous Locarno Festival, are initiatives that will allow us to be effectively exposed to an impressive combined audience of more than 465’000 persons in 2 months.