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The Future is Public, Platform Urbanism and Its Discontents

Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, curated by Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer. Photo: Ugo Carmeni

Higher Seminar with Benjamin Gerdes, Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer

The Royal Institute of Art and Benjamin Gerdes, Senior Lecturer, are inviting you to a higher seminar and a discussion held on March 23, 6-8pm at OPI Lab Studio Space, Gröndalsvägen 1, 117 66 Stockholm.

Benjamin Gerdes will be in dialogue with the research of Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer on platform urbanism, a new area of research examining the increasing centrality of digital platforms in the planning, governance, economy, and social relations of the city.

The higher seminar on platform urbanism is organized as part of Benjamin Gerdes’ artistic research project, Ghost Platform: Generating the “Complex Image” of Data, Labour, and Logistics, which engages in questions of invisible labour in the contemporary circulation of materials and information, particularly the conditions under which this is popularly experienced in the Global North. The phenomenon of the digital platform, as a mechanism of extraction, communication, aestheticization, and spatial and social reorganization, occupies one focus of the project. This research examines the possibilities of repurposing related tools toward more equitable outcomes.

Ghost Platform: Generating the “Complex Image” of Data, Labour, and Logistics is funded by the Swedish Research Council 2022-2025 and hosted by the Royal Institute of Art.

Peter Mörtenböck & Helge Mooshammer

Platforms are setting the tone in the current reshaping of urban life through the proliferation of infrastructural spaces and urban networks. They are an effective mechanism whose ‘conjunctural geographies’ – the flexible embeddedness and dis-embeddedness of space-time assemblages managed by platforms – has led to a global scattering of elastic spatial assemblages in which the value generated by collective production is extracted from the locales in which this production takes place. The physical terrain of the city is inscribed on these platforms in the form of user-generated content, and, conversely, platforms themselves have become the new form of city. To better direct and control this flow of productivity, platform providers are increasingly focusing on the design of smart environments and the infrastructures, services and objects integrated within them as agenda-setters, watchdogs and gatekeepers of the platform economy.

Recognising, establishing and employing platforms as a sphere of public conversation, contestation and conflict could open up a range of opportunities for other forms of co-existence. Importantly, such public cultures could help to illuminate and engage with the wide spectrum of antagonisms inherent in platform-run societies – between the ability to participate across spatial and temporal divides and the constant threat of arbitrary exclusion; between the benefit of connecting and accessing shared resources and the pressure to be permanently available and economise every moment; between the pursuit of a myriad of collectively determined values and the flattening of diversity into homogeneous categories.

The seminar will be held in English.

As we have a limited number of places, registration is required for the event. Send an email to:

A warm welcome!

About the higher seminar

The higher seminar is a place where we together explore and discuss issues that have emerged through the various artistic research processes that take place at the Royal Institute of Art. Each seminar has a form and content that reflects the specific question and artistic project that we are invited to engage with. The core of the higher seminar is the communal thinking and sharing of methods and experiences in the middle of an artistic research process.


Benjamin Gerdes is an artist, writer, and organizer working primarily in video and related public formats. His individual and collaborative projects emerge via long-term research processes in dialogue with activists, trade unionists, architects, and geographers, among others. After two decades in New York City, he presently teaches at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm where he leads a professor group and directs the Swedish Research Council-funded artistic research project Ghost Platform: Generating the “Complex Image” of Data, Labour, and Logistics. In 2018, Gerdes was a US State Department Fulbright Specialist fellow at the Department of Visual Culture at TU Wien.

Peter Mörtenböck is Professor of Visual Culture at the TU Wien and Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His current research is focused on the architecture of the political community and the economisation of the city, as well as the global use of raw materials, urban infrastructures and new data publics.

Helge Mooshammer is an architect, author and curator. He conducts urban and cultural research in the Department of Visual Culture at the TU Wien and Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He has initiated and directed numerous international research projects focusing on issues relating to (post)capitalist urban economics and urban informality.

Mörtenböck and Mooshammer are the founding directors of the Centre for Global Architecture and have curated the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, exploring the phenomenon of platform urbanism. Their most recent book publications include, among others, Informal Market Worlds: The Architecture of Economic Pressure – ATLAS & READER (ed. with Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman, nai010 Publishers, 2015), Visual Cultures as Opportunity (Sternberg/MIT Press, 2016), Data Publics: Public Plurality in an Era of Data Determinacy (Routledge, 2020) and Platform Urbanism and Its Discontents (nai010 Publishers, 2021). They are currently working on the forthcoming monograph Building Capital: Urban Speculation and the Architecture of Finance.


Of Public Interest (OPI) Lab is a hub for experimental artistic and architectural practice-based thinking and doing. The Lab operates as an advanced course that is held at the Department for Research and Further Education within Architecture and Fine Art at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.

Tube: Liljeholmen, then 5-minute walk, or tram to Trekanten.
Please note the space is accessible by steps. There is unfortunately no ramp or accessible toilet.