This article offers a reading of two recent feature films, Jonathan Mostow's Surrogates (US, 2009) and Spike Jonze's Her (US, 2013), as allegories of the tensions inherent in our collective relation with machines, examining the role technology plays in the constitution of subjectivity, collectivity, and desire. I argue that Surrogates exemplifies the view of technology as prosthetic enhancement, foregrounding technology-induced psychic exhaustion and libidinal depletion of the social body (the networked body)—a view that results in the call to restore human collectivity through a return to its former unmediated status. By contrast, Her moves beyond the notion of prosthesis, bringing into focus human-machine intimacies wherein the human serves as host or a surrogate womb to the emerging technological object. In Her, technology is seen as an immaterial parasite while human collectivity emerges as the voice of the “general intellect,” disembodied and mediated by the machines. The collective resurfaces as a ghost in the machine, a spectral presence that haunts the network to offer a glimpse of hope of liberation and autonomy for the disaffected human multitude.
Machinic Intimacies and Mechanical Brides: Collectivity between Prosthesis and Surrogacy in Jonathan Mostow's Surrogates and Spike Jonze's Her
Alla Ivanchikova; Machinic Intimacies and Mechanical Brides: Collectivity between Prosthesis and Surrogacy in Jonathan Mostow's Surrogates and Spike Jonze's Her. Camera Obscura 1 May 2016; 31 (1 (91)): 65–91. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-3454430
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