Marconi at PoldhuCommunications have often been understood as bound up with media devices. Wireless communication, however, presents distinct ways of understanding media as it exceeds the devices, interfaces, and wires through which we typically conceive of the medium of communication.

Working initially with Marconi’s transmission of wireless signals between Cornwall, England, and Newfoundland, Canada, this chapter charts how that first wireless exchange, ‘dot … dot … dot’, relocates wireless media from the 19th Century ocean to the contemporary city, and multiplies towards a concentration of wireless exchanges that give rise to expanded ecologies of transmission. This chapter explores how an atmospheric mode of communication –like the ether, resonant and electric – delineates urban spaces that are characterised by emanation, presence, and surround.

Published in The Wireless Spectrum: The Politics, Practices, and Poetics of Mobile Media, edited by Barbara Crow, Michael Longford and Kim Sawchuk (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), 46-59.

Originally presented in 2005 as part of the Mobile Digital Commons Network symposium, held at the Society for Art and Technology, Montréal.

Download pdf of uncorrected proof (please refer to edited collection for final version).porthleven_2005 059x