‘Tantalisingly Close shows how the mobile telephone is a device saturated with the dreams, hopes, and fears that make us human. De Vries demonstrates that mobile communication is a key to understanding the human condition in the early 21st century.’ Prof. Dr. John Durham Peters, author of Speaking into the Air|‘De Vries provides us with an urbane and discerning tour of the imaginarium of mobile media. Equally adept at exploring ancient classical myths as contemporary media-driven ones, he sure-footedly guides us through this complex terrain. His analysis will not soon be superseded.’ Prof. Dr. James E. Katz, co-editor of Perpetual Contact
While studies of mobile wireless communication devices usually focus on their social implications, De Vries proposes to venture into a more historical and comparative direction to shed light on our preoccupation with them in the first place. He constructs an archaeological view of the development of communication technologies over the past 200 years, providing a comprehensive account of how persistent hopes and beliefs have come to give mobile wireless media such a prominent position today. Our expectations and uses of them are surprisingly similar to those of older media; consequently, they reconfirm the idea that living in an ‘anyone, anything, anytime, anywhere’ world is both a blessing and a curse, and that the desire for sublime communication is a tragic yet highly powerful regulative principle in our media evolution.
Imar de Vries is Assistant Professor of New Media and Digital Culture in the Department of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University. His work primarily focuses on studying innovation discourses of wireless technologies, social media, and augmented reality. He obtained his PhD in 2008 with a media-archaeological and -philosophical study of how mobile phones developed to become quintessential personal communication tools, and he subsequently published on the subject in the book Tantalisingly close: An archaeology of communication desires in discourses of mobile wireless media (Amsterdam University Press 2012). He also published on mobile ringtones and identity performances, selfie culture, and archives in the digital age. De Vries is a member of the board of Media Lab IMPAKT and affiliated with Media Lab SETUP.