14th October 2019: Platform Imaginaries. On Self-Driving Cars and the New Mobility

Click here to watch. 

A reflection on maps and movement in a city, with media and culture assistant professor Alex Gekker (UvA), artist duo Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum and as moderator new media researcher Martijn de Waal (HvA).

Feet concreted in geography and time, eyes fixated on the shining screen, and GPS technologies in the palm. Is it impossible to be lost on this earth? Going on an adventure has never been harder in a world that has been mapped again and again; no stone unturned, no land undiscovered. The mapped world helps for navigation through large oceans, rocky terrains, blue skies, and is a great artistic achievements for humanity. As the digital era flourishes however, a certain co-dependency on mapping technologies has changed how people move and act. Spacial awareness was once limited to the proximity of a single persons knowledge, restricting movement and travel, from fear of unknown territories. As mobile platforms like Waze, Car2Go, Uber, ViaVan, Here and Google Maps become an integral part of mobility systems in cities like Amsterdam, dynamically regulating travel chaos, we reflect on digital cartographic practices to peer into what might become if, and when, self-driving cars are introduced into society. 

Platform Imaginaries is a series of arts and digital cultures happenings initiated by ARIAS and hosted by SPUI25 that aims to empower artists, researchers and designers to formulate new platform imaginaries for and within the city.

About the speakers 

Alex Gekker is an assistant professor in the departments of Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam, working on the relations between mapping, digital interfaces and power. He is interested in ways socio-technical systems are designed to influence users, and his research touches upon quantification and datafication of society, the experience economy and interface critique.


Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum work together under the name PolakVanBekkum. They collaborate as an artist duo since 2010, their collaboration goes back as far as almost 25 years. Esther Polak is educated in fine arts and painting at the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam. Ivar van Bekkum is educated as journalist. Since 2002 their work focusses on landscape and mobility.


Martijn de Waal is a writer and researcher, working as a professor at the Lectorate of Play and Civic Media at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. His focus is on the relation between digital media and urban culture, with a specific interest in public space.




October 14, 2019