Benjamin Gerdes’ research project Ghost Platform receives significant research award
The Royal Institute of Art is proud to announce a significant award from the Swedish Research Council (vetenskapsrådet) to Senior Lecturer Benjamin Gerdes with his project Ghost Platform: Generating the “Complex Image” of Data, Labour, and Logistics. The award amounts to 4 497 000 SEK and will fund the project over three years beginning in January 2022.
Ghost Platform examines how the circulation of goods and information in contemporary societies is aesthetically misrepresented as a clean and frictionless system. Contrasting this view, the research project exposes the reliance of logistics and intelligent automation systems on “ghost work”: forms of human labour concealed from public view. Convening a study circle of logistics workers and artistic researchers to co-design a software tool, the aim is to examine these obscured perspectives in turn as a ghost platform. The project is the first of its kind to be supported with research resources of Swedish National Computing Infrastructure (SNIC).
Benjamin Gerdes said:
–The recent pandemic has drawn increased attention to the vulnerability of so-called essential workers, the unsustainability of global supply chains, and the growing inequality facilitated by the profit motives of logistics and tech industries. My project proposes the experimental potential of artistic research methods to counter the prevailing image of these systems. In doing so, my hope is that it will not only shift public perceptions of these complex global systems, but ultimately co-develop public tools for articulating our movement from systems of exploitation, extraction, and control to those of solidarity, sustainability, care and even plenitude. I am humbled by this grant and thank my colleagues and students for their enthusiasm and support regarding my pursuit of these topics.–
Ghost Platform expands on themes in Benjamin Gerdes’ research and artistic production over the past three years, including a series of videos made in collaboration with the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union, a US Fulbright Scholar Grant hosted by the Centre for Global Architecture at TU Wien, exhibitions including GIBCA (2021) and the Venice Architecture Biennale (2021), as well as publications in PARSE Journal and the edited volumes Data Publics (Routledge, 2020) and Platform Urbanism and Its Discontents (2021, NAI 010).
The project furthermore draws on concepts and approaches explored in Gerdes’ professor group since joining the Royal Institute of Art in 2019, including the year-long investigations “Imaging and Imagining Infrastructures,” “Taking Space, Making Place” and, currently, “Gathering in Haunted Times,” as well as the internally funded artistic research and development group “The World as Data.” (KoFU funding).