Going Wireless in the Belle Époque

Eric Born

— 2015


The Belle Époque witnessed not only the construction of the Viennese Palais des Beaux Arts, but also many predictions about possible alliances of art and technology yet to come. In this photo essay, Erik Born puts utopian images of a wireless revolution from around 1900 in dialogue with emerging scholarship on the pragmatics of going wireless since the year 2000. 

Going Wireless in the Belle Epoque appears in Issue 7.1 of continent.

(…) One of the main attractions of wireless technology, as Grant Wythoff argues, was that it promised to wrap the vast infrastructure of wired systems around the bodies of individual users, thereby creating a form of “pocket wireless,” not unlike a smartphone. The projected capabilities of such wireless gadgets easily outpaced technical limitations, though science and fiction remained interdependent in these wireless futures.