The future is female : gynoidian skins and prosthetic experience : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Media Studies at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
The female cyborg, or ‘gynoid’, has historically recurred in cinema as a trope by
which the female form magnetises anxieties about new experiences proffered by
digital technologies. This thesis draws on phenomenological theory, including
Laura Marks’ notion of the ‘haptic’ and Jennifer Barker’s method of ‘textural
analysis’, to conceptualise the affective experiences that gynoids within a strand
of contemporary Hollywood films promote. The gynoidian protagonists of Spike
Jonze’s Her (2013), Alex Garland’s Ex Machina (2015), and Luc Besson’s Lucy
(2014) attempt to engage the viewer in various ‘prosthetic’ (Alison Landsberg)
encounters: tactility, sensations, gaming and sexual experiences. I argue that
these films use sophisticated stylistic means, including what I term ‘haptic
absence’, to employ the gynoid’s body or voice as a conduit in promoting a more
positive or celebratory exploration of the affects produced by new technologies.
The films demonstrate that within this particular cultural milieu,
phenomenological experiences of cinema have the potential to open up a less
fraught relationship between women and technology.