INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE. ALWAYS WATCHING: THE ROBOT, ANDROID & CYBORG ON SCREEN
11 March 2023 - 13h00
From the iconic Metropolis in 1927 all the way up to Franklin Rich’s The Artifice Girl in 2022, cinema has been a watchful presence in humanity’s dalliance with artificial life. From robots, to androids, to cyborgs, the idea that our own hubris might, in fact, create the very conditions for our own destruction has been central to the ways in which filmmakers have reflected on issues surrounding artificial life. Whether it be the out-of-control security robots of Jim Wynorski’s Chopping Mall (who take their role as shopping mall guards a little too seriously), the uncanny, malfunctioning androids of Westworld or the army of daleks jealously bent on total domination of humanity in Dr Who and The Daleks, their portrayal has often been seen as a warning against humanity’s unbridled creation of electronic or robotic life. Yet they have also been portrayed as benevolent: as faithful friends (The Iron Giant); humorous and quirky sidekicks (Short Circuit); clever and loyal allies such as R2D2 and C3PO (amongst others) in The Empire Strikes Back; and even studious (and heart-warming) workers (WALL-E). Cinema’s relationship with the robot, the android and cyborg has therefore been a complex one.
Dr Craig Ian Mann (Sheffield Hallam University) will provide an overview of the ways in which ‘the robot’ has been interpreted on screen, providing a clear sense of just how we have explored artificial life in cinema. Dr Amir Viduka (University of Amsterdam) and Professor Frank Mehring (Radboud University, Nijmegen) will unpack specific aspects of our curious - and sometimes troubling - cinematic relationship with robots. And Dr Christine Cornea (University of East Anglia) will look at how issues of gender are played out across the body of the cyborg in a number of science fiction/horror films such as Demon Seed, The Terminator, and Titane. Thereby the cyborg is identified in a melding of human self with mechanical ‘other’, so, by definition, represents an erosion of boundaries between human and machine and between the many gendered binary oppositions that have traditionally underpinned our understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit.
The conference, which will be conducted in English and moderated by Dr. Russ Hunter, will conclude with a panel discussion.
Entrance is free.