“Ava’s body is a good one”: (Dis)Embodiment in Ex Machina

Open access

Abstract

This article discusses the role of the body in Alex Garland’s film Ex Machina (2015). It focuses on Ava’s female cyborg body against the backdrop of both classic post-humanist theories and current reflections from scholars in the field of body studies. I argue that Ex Machina addresses but also transcends questions of gender and feminism. It stresses the importance of the body for social interaction both in the virtual as well as the real world. Ava’s lack of humanity results from her mind that is derived from the digital network Blue Book in which disembodied communication dominates. Moreover, the particular construction of Nathan’s progeny demonstrates his longing for a docile sex toy since he created Ava with fully functional genitals but without morals. Ex Machina further exhibits various network metaphors both on the visual and the audio level that contribute to the (re)acknowledgement that we need a body in order to be human.

References

  • Alaimo, Stacy, and Susan Hekman, eds. Material Feminism. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2009.

  • Bates, Laura. “The Trouble With Sex Robots.” New York Times. The New York Times Company. 17 July 2017. Web. 22 July 2017.

  • Beck, Bernard. “Runaway Train: Ex Machina and the Rebel Girls.” Multicultural Perspectives 18.1 (2016): 29-32.

  • Biles, Jeremy. “Review. Ex Machina.” Religious Studies Review 41.4 (October 2015): 185.

  • Buchanan, Kyle. “Does Ex Machina Have a Woman Problem, or Is Its Take on Gender Truly Futuristic?” Vulture. New York Media. 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 July 2017.

  • Burk, Drew. “Between Novelty, Self-Belonging, and Art.” &&& Journal, The New Centre for Research & Practice. 3 May 2015. Web. 22 July 2017.

  • Canepari, Zackary et al. “Uncanny Lover: Building a Sex Robot.” New York Times. The New York Times Company, 2015. Web. 22 July 2017.

  • Cross, Katherine. “Goddess from the Machine. A Look at Ex Machina’s Gender Politics.” Feministing 2015. N. p. Web. 22 July 2017.

  • DeFabio, Cara Rose. “‘Ex Machina’ Review: Gorgeous Futurism, But Flawed Gender Depictions.” The World Post. Huffington Post Media Group. 13 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 July 2017.

  • DeMello, Margo. Body Studies. New York: Routledge, 2014. Evans, Dylan. An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge, 1996.

  • Foster, Thomas. “The Reappearing Body in Postmodern Technoculture.” Contemporary Literature 42.3 (Autumn, 2001): 617-631.

  • Fox Keller, Evelyn. Reflections on Gender and Science. New Haven: Yale UP, 1996. Ex Machina. Dir. Alex Garland. Perf. Alicia Vikander, Domnhall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Sonoya Mizuno. Universal Pictures, 2015.

  • Giresunlu, Leman. “Cyborg Goddesses: The Mainframe Revisited.” At the Interface/ Probing the Boundaries 56 (2009): 157-187.

  • Groes, Sebastian. “‘I love Alaska’: Posthuman Subjectivity and Memory on the Final Frontier of Our Ecological Crisis.” Textual Practice 31 (2017): 973-993. Web. 20 Oct. 2017.

  • Halberstam, Judith. “Automating Gender: Postmodern Feminism in the Age of the Intelligent Machine.” Feminist Studies 17.3 (Autumn 1991): 439-460.

  • Haraway, Donna [1985]. “A Cyborg Manifesto. Science, Technology and Socialist-feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” The Cybercultures Reader. Ed. David Bell and Barbara Kennedy. New York: Routledge, 2000. 292-324.

  • Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman. Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1999.

  • Hillman, David and Ulrika Maude. The Body in Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015. Jacobson, Brian R. “Ex Machina in the Garden.” Film Quarterly 69.4 (2016): 23-34.

  • Killian, Kyle D. “Ex Machina.” Journal of Feminist Family Therapy 27.3-4 (2015): 156-157.

  • Koistinen, Aino-Kaisa. “‘The Machine Is Nothing without the Woman’: Gender, Humanity and the Cyborg Body in the Original and Reimagined Bionic Woman.” Science Fiction Film and Television 8.1 (2015): 53-74.

  • Mendelsohn, Daniel. “The Robots Are Winning!” The New York Review of Books 62.10 (2015).

  • Mulvey, Laura [1975]: “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. Ed. Amelia Jones. London: Routledge, 2003. 44-52.

  • Nozedar, Adele. Skull Sourcebook: Over 500 Skulls in Art & Culture. Hong Kong: Pace Point, 2016.

  • Sharkey, Noel et al. “Our Sexual Future with Robots - A Foundation for Responsible Robotics Consulation Report.” Foundation for Responsible Robotics, NL, 2017. Web. 22 July 2017.

  • Trüper, Lena. “Von Menschenbildern und Textmaschinen: Was Cyborgs im Film über den Wandel medialer Kommunikation erzählen.” Visual Past, Special Issue Visual Narratives - Cultural Identities 3.1, 2016. Web. 22 July 2017.

  • Watercutter, Angela. “Ex Machina Has a Serious Fembot Problem.” Wired. Condé Nast. 4 Sept. 2015. Web. 22 July 2017.

American, British and Canadian Studies

The Journal of Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu

Journal Information

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 161 161 93
PDF Downloads 85 85 52