Reading In The Philosophy Of Technology Animation Essay

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The concept of cyborg has grown predominantly in the films and literature in the final decade of twentieth century. From the introduction of cyborg, the cinema has been one of the primary media to explore and develop them. Some of the popular films have also constituted a central resource to explore the social implication of cyborgs. Though the images of the cyborg vary in each of the films, there are some common definite themes which are same in most of the films. The cyborg has attracted the people who watch the cinema because of its powers and the high technological science they are built in with. Cinema doesn't limit the depiction of cyborg. Cyborgs have also influenced some of the popular literature. The gender roles in the cinema were challenged by the cyborg introduction.

Cyborg

Cyborg is defined as cybernetic organism which is an organism that has both natural and artificial systems. They are artificially enhanced human beings that are created to survive better in the extra terrestrial environment (Manfred & Nathan, 1960).

History of Cyborg
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In the science fiction, the man machine concept was widespread before World War II. Edgar Allan Poe was the first guy to introduce the character in his short story in 1843. Jean de la Hire introduced the first literary cyborg in 1908. Edmond Hamilton combined machine and parts of organic to create space explorers in 1928. On the contrary, history denotes that Frankenstein character created by Mary Shelley was considered to be the origin or Cyborg. Frankenstein was referred as the first cyborg that was not born, but has been assembled on an operating table. Thus the history explains that there are two types of cyborg namely the Cyborg monster controlled by machine and the post human body which was re-conceptualized. According to the quote of Heims, cyborgs may even give birth (Anne, 1996).

The representation of Cyborgs in Movies

From the introduction of Cyborgs in the films, they have a better representation and choice by the audience. The gender roles are comparatively varied from the depictions of cyborg. The difference and the variations between the cyborg and the normal human gender role can be explained by taking examples from the films from the past. We have taken two science fiction movies which has the roles of both the cyborgs and the gender roles. They are: Riddle Scott' directed Blade runner, released in 1982 and Larry and Andy' directed the Matrix Trilogy which includes all the three parts namely The Matrix released in 1999, followed by The Matrix reloaded in 2003 and The Matrix Revolution.

The reason for selecting these two films has several factors. Primarily, the films deal with the issue of the condition of the post human and the representation of particular generation of cyborgs into the living organism. Secondly, their popularity is high along with huge earnings, not to forget the wide range of audience. Thirdly, these films scored high on the intellectual concept. Fourth, with increased academic discourse of post humanism, the cinematic narratives appeared simultaneously. Blade Runner was released at the same time of the publication of Haraway's Manifesto and Matrix Trilogy was released at the time of the introduction of Hayles book in 1999. Blade Runner was recognized when his film received nine awards along with nomination for Oscar under two different categories. Yet, the film achieved greater success after the film was released. The film helped to increase the discussion among common public as well as academicians about the human beings' future in a technically advanced and commercialized society. The Matrix Trilogy received a greater recognition among the audiences. Entertainment weekly awarded Matrix with the best Science Fiction film of the past 25 years award in 2005.

The Research Methodology

The methodology is predetermined by the cinematographic multidimensional nature. Many scholars have explained that various features of filming contribute to the meanings of production (Dyer, 1995; Mulvey, 1981; Wenyi, 2003). There were many studies conducted over Blade Runner which explained the different interpretations possible from the movie (Chapman, 2001). To understand the core meanings of the movie, interviews are referred with its creators. Sandra Moriarty created this strategy in her analysis where she analyzed the perception of advertising messages by the public (Moriarty, 1995). To collate them, social semiotics are nothing but the combined methodological framework to analyze two science fiction movies - Blade Runner and the Matrix Trilogy. The study intended to give a clear understanding of the implied meanings in Cyborgs' representations and their differences from roles of normal gender.

Blade Runner vs. Gender Role
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Blade Runner begins with a brief description plotting the film and continues with paradigmatic analysis of the narrative. The creators of the film are explained in two series of interviews collected by Charles Lauzirika in 2007 which supports the reconstruction of the system of implied meanings. The concept of the liberal humanist subject and its critique renders a categorical scheme for the analysis. The particular artistic form (genre) employed by any artwork can shape the signifying system of performative practice and with this respect, cyberpunk is characterized by its complex narrative structure, which frequently appears to be controversial and fractured (Slusser & Shippey, 1992). In the case of Blade Runner this issue manifested itself in a disturbed paradigmatic coherence. Hence, the movie's paradigmatic structure is presented by three sets of oppositions:

Blade Runner is a complex activity which is made up of a critique of the modernist ambitions played out in the corruption of the human race and nostalgia for classical humanist ideals alongside a test to imagine a new social actor rising from the postmodern and post-biological experience. Though the wide attention are given to the figures of Deckard and Rachael (Gender roles), Roy Batty is the character that presents cyborg (posthuman) identity as it is conceptualized by contemporary scholarship. If Deckard replicates the conventional prototype of the liberal humanist subject and noir genre character, the figure of Roy is non-traditional and challenging.

Matrix vs. Gender Role

Matrix Trilogy by Andy and Larry Wachowski shares common heroes and moves along the same storyline, all three films (The Matrix, 1999; The Matrix Reloaded, 2003a; and The Matrix Revolutions, 2003b) are examined together. The investigation starts with a plot description and then turns to the deconstruction of the paradigmatic structure of the movie, especially in regards to the issue of the biotechnological self. The explanations given by the directors and actors in the documentary The Matrix Revisited (Josk Oreck, 2001) are used in order to assist in making sense of the symbolic structure of the film.

The paradigmatic structure of the Matrix Trilogy could be demonstrated by three sets of oppositions: Zion versus the Matrix, Neo versus biological Zionists, and Neo versus Smith. The first set considers biological and synthetic forms of existence as collective actors.

As shown by an analysis of the oppositions forming the paradigmatic structure of the narrative, there are no cyborgs (posthumans) in the highly digitalized utopia of the Matrix. Though the formal designations as techno-humans or data-humans are shown, characters regurgitate more or less familiar liberal concepts of the human. Thus, the typical characteristics of a liberal self are embodied in the image of Neo. This updated social actor differentiates itself from two other participants in social interactions within the framework of techno-human ontology. From one side, Neo is opposed to the authentic humans who carry out the aspects of pre-modern consciousness and sociality. From another side, there is a totally virtualized agent which constitutes an acceleration of the liberal ideals presented with a dehumanizing effect. The depicted structure of meanings and cinematic characteristics works to make a hero out of the liberal techno-human.

Findings

Techno-science considers the cyborg as an epistemological tool for the vital comprehension of reality and as a political project. Primarily, equipped with an idea of destabilizing effect of advanced technologies to the very belief of humanness and correspondent value system, scholars destructed the existing social order in terms of sociopolitical asymmetry. Secondly, the techno-science conceptualization of the cyborg considers the posthuman subject as a new political actor capable of challenging the structures of domination and control. Whilst the analyzed science fiction movies, the outstanding intellectual works which tried to examine humanity in its dynamics, produced ambiguous representations of the biotechnological self. The deconstruction of the paradigmatic structure of the films shows that they both are more or less utilize conventional models of the liberal humanist subject for central characters. The film also provided a corresponding set of asymmetrical sociopolitical relationships including race and gender imbalances. Yet, the movies differentiate themselves from one another in terms of the final message that is sent to the audience.

Thus, the picture of the replicant Roy Batty who was the antagonist appeared in Blade Runner, embodied the thought of a transgressive personality which was not demonized by film creators or, on the contrary, socialized through humanization. This character was created as a challenge and an experience of an optional state of being. Addition to that, another replicant portrayed in the movie, Rachael, as well as her replicant hunter, Rick Deckard, mixes the idea of the cyborg with conventional humanist values to produce the neo-liberal myth of a technologized self. In kind, Neo, the techno-human character of the Matrix Trilogy, exhibits a particular set of symbols that assures the coherence of the dominant system of representations.

Conclusion
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Haraway (1991 & 2004) explains that the techno-science cyborg imagery is in large part a matter of discussion, a politics of representation is supposed to interrogate the established signifying order on its most basic level. The popular art can also serve as a resource for reviews and alternatives. Thus, Blade Runner uncovers questions about the conventional indicators of humanness in the biotechnological age and devises innovative types of subjectivity where as the Matrix Trilogy appears to be a relevant example of a work planning the humanist subject into the future.

Summary

In summary, while cyborg imagery of epistemological and political challenge, cultural representations of biotechnological subjectivity should be realized rather in terms of their ambiguity. As shown during the analysis of the aforesaid movies, the image of the cyborg can be employed by popular cinema in different historical periods both for corruption and to affirm the dominant discursive system. Thus the analyses conclude that the depiction of the image of the cyborg has more attraction towards the audience than the gender roles in the science fiction films.

References

  • Anne Balsamo, (1996) "Technologies of the Gendered Body: Reading Cyborg Women"
  • Chapman, Murray (2001). Blade Runner FAQ. Retrieved June 12, 2007, from http://scribble.com/uwi/br/brfaq/unicorn.html
  • Dyer, Richard. (1995). Victim: hegemonic project. In Richard Dyer, The matter of images: Essays on representation. (pp. 93-110). London & New York: Rutledge.
  • Graham, Elaine. (2004). Post/human conditions. Theology Sexuality, 10, 10-32. SAGE Publications. Retrieved June 11, 2008, from http://tse.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/10/2/10
  • Haraway, Donna. (2004). Manifesto for cyborgs: Science, technology, and social feminism in the 1980s. In D. Kaplan, ed. Reading in the philosophy of technology. (pp. 161-178). Lonham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (Original work published 1991).
  • Manfred E. Clynes, and Nathan S. Kline, (1960) "Cyborgs and space," Astronautics, September, pp. 26-27 and 74-75; reprinted in Gray, Mentor, and Figueroa-Sarriera, eds., The Cyborg Handbook, New York: Routledge, 1995, pp. 29-34. (hardback: ISBN 0-415-90848-5; paperback: ISBN 0-415-90849-3)
  • Moriarty, Sandra. (1995). Visual semiotics and the production of meanings in advertising. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from http://spot.colorado.edu/~moriarts/vissemiotics.html
  • Mulvey, Laura. (1981). Visual pleasure and narrative cinema. In Tony Bennett et al. (Eds.), Popular television and film. (pp. 206-215). London: British Film Institute.
  • Slusser, George, and Shippey, Tom. (Eds.) (1992). Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the future of narrative. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
  • Oreck, Josh. (Director). (2001). The Matrix revisited [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Home Video.
  • Wenyi, Ma. (2003). Body, image and the visual technology: Disappearance of the human body in cinematic representations. (Master thesis, Graduate Institute of English, National Central University, 2003). Retrieved from http://thesis.lib.ncu.edu.tw/ETD-db/ETDsearch/getfile?URN=87122011&filename=87122011.pdf