Platform Urbanism and Its Discontent

June 25
5:00-9:00 pm


DUMBO, Via Camillo Casarini, 19 – Open to the public
Watch this event on YOUTUBE


5:00 pm
Exhibition Opening with Into the Black Box 

5:30 pm
Talk: “Platform Urbanism and Its Discontents”  

Intro: PLUS Project

  • Intervention by Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer (curators of the Austrian pavilion at Biennale Architettura 2021) 
  • Relations: Yvonne Hütter (Marie-Curie Fellow), Lucia Babina (Cultural Activist), Carmen Lael Hines (Platform-Austria pavilion) 
  • Discussant: Sandro Mezzadra (University of Bologna – Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory) 

Exhibition: “Into the Black Boxes of Platform Urbanism” 

Platforms are becoming crucial vectors of urban transformations. They colonize cities embedding the social fabric into valorization circuits, both symbolic and material. Dwellers become entrepreneurs in competition on marketplaces. Streets, neighborhoods, areas are codified, ranked and hierarchized into categories of use. Services grows hybridizing material and digital spaces. Nevertheless, platform’ supposed horizontality hide the inscrutability of its algorithms, management and mechanisms. Despite the narrative of the progress and sharing, forms of discontents develop along with platform expansion. They contest working conditions, gentrification, data transparency, profit distribution.  

The exhibition proposes ten different perspectives on platform urbanism. Each box of a Dumbo pavilion hosts a particular work of photojournalists, scholars and artist. The contributors reflect on several features of the platform urbanism, from workers’ protests to urban logistics. All together they propose a multifaceted gaze on this phenomenon. Put it differently, the exhibition invites the spectator to enter into the secret core of platforms and discover the hidden mechanisms of power they keep.

Talk: “Platform Urbanism and Its Discontent” 

By reorganizing access to a wide spectrum of fundamental domains, such as education, housing, health care, or even political information, platforms are destined to become the most powerful players regulating the way we live in cities. Digital platforms such as Facebook, Uber, Airbnb and Amazon embody not only new types of enterprises but also a completely new culture of life—from the products we handle and the services we use every day to entire urban neighborhoods that will be built by major platform enterprises in the next few years. These multi-scalar changes raise significant questions about the social potentials and risks of the architecture of these all-encompassing ecosystems. 

Into the Black Box is a collective project of trans-disciplinary research promoted by activists and scholars. Planetary logistics, platforms and digital transformations, labour organization and struggles, urbanization processes, are the main lenses through which Into the Black Box elaborates a critical analysis and interpretation of contemporary social, economics, and political dynamics.