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Postcyberpunk dystopian cityscape and emotion artificial intelligence: A spatio-cognitive analysis of posthuman representation in Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

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Abstract

Within visual culture, postcyberpunk films are best approached as places of Otherness whereby human identity and agency are downplayed and posthumans are magnified in highly technopolic societies marked with scientific determinism. Postcyberpunk treats the posthuman enclave as a heterotopic site, oscillating between utopian and dystopian spaces, potentially and optimistically, creating a space for humanity to be reassessed and renegotiated. Against this backdrop, the current research endeavor proposes a Spatio-Cognitive Model of Posthuman Representation focusing attention on heterotopic ‘spaces’ and ‘bodies’ in hyperconnected environments. While the model owes a substantial debt to Foucault’s writings on heterotopia and the utopian body, in tilting the focus of enquiry, this paper is informed by the tenets of polyrhythmia, hypermimesis, spatial repertoires, semiotic assemblages and cognitive embodiment as insightful interventions. Blade Runner 2049 is taken as a fertile case study grounded in paradoxes and ambiguities around the contradiction between humans and replicants, artificial intelligence and super-large enterprises. The hybridity pertinent to the postcyberpunk film genre and the inner and outer topographies of posthuman representation proved to be insightful investigative vantage points of multimodal inquiry for the socio-political and technocratic implications they underlie. With technology seamlessly integrated into social spaces and posthuman bodies, Blade Runner 2049 is arguably structured as an emotional journey composed of multiple heterotopias (spatial layers, ruptures and bifurcations expressed through socio-political capitalist projections). The article adamantly argues for new philosophical perspectives and praxis in redefinition of the social relationship between human and posthuman.

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The chapter investigates the interplay between spatial and lightness perception. It considers data emerging from two texts (a novel and a film) that confirm a hypothesis based on an Implicit Association Test. The texts analysed are Demian, by German writer Hermann Hesse (1919) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show by Jim Sharman (1975). Both authors make use of space and lightness in a creative way: on one hand, they give lightness a spatial connotation, i.e. IN/OUT orientation. On the other hand, both narratives construe the spatial orientation of IN/OUT as having a moral connotation. Conceptual Blending (Fauconnier and Turner, 2002) is used to account for the understanding of the interplay between space and lightness in the texts. These observations reflect the results of the Implicit Association Test showing a high association strength value between the categories of IN and LIGHT. The correlation between the hypothesis and the examples observed from the texts suggest that the interconnection of IN and LIGHT exploited in the texts is a default construal for such experiential categories, rather than a rhetorical device of the authors.
Book
Over five hundred years since it was named, utopia remains a vital concept for understanding and challenging the world(s) we inhabit, even in - or rather because of - the condition of ‘post-utopianism’ that supposedly permeates them. In Rethinking Utopia David M. Bell offers a diagnosis of the present through the lens of utopia and then, by rethinking the concept through engagement with utopian studies, a variety of ‘radical’ theories and the need for decolonizing praxis, shows how utopianism might work within, against and beyond that which exists in order to provide us with hope for a better future. He proposes paying a ‘subversive fidelity’ to utopia, in which its three constituent terms: ‘good’ (eu), ‘place’ (topos), and ʼno’ (ou) are rethought to assert the importance of immanent, affective relations. The volume engages with a variety of practices and forms to articulate such a utopianism, including popular education/critical pedagogy; musical improvisation; and utopian literature. The problems as well as the possibilities of this utopianism are explored, although the problems are often revealed to be possibilities, provided they are subject to material challenge. Rethinking Utopia offers a way of thinking about (and perhaps realising) utopia that helps overcome some of the binary oppositions structuring much thinking about the topic. It allows utopia to be thought in terms of place and process; affirmation and negation; and the real and the not-yet. It engages with the spatial and affective turns in the social sciences without ever uncritically being subsumed by them; and seeks to make connections to indigenous cosmologies. It is a cautious, careful, critical work punctuated by both pessimism and hope; and a refusal to accept the finality of this or any world.
Article
The aim of this paper is to open a discussion about multimodal work in the area of gender, language and discourse, and propose the kinds of multimodal approaches that are most appropriate for this task. Multimodality, we claim, is a rather fragmented and unconsolidated field where many of the tools and concepts applied by different researchers are much less suitable than others. Our intention here is to raise critical questions about the affordances used by communicators in each context of usage and the ideological purposes they are meant to accomplish, so that meanings about gender and sexuality are uncovered.
Article
This article looks to restore Michel Foucault's concept of the heterotopia to its literary origins, and to thereby resolve the paradox that exists between Foucault's various definitions of the term. Described by Foucault as both an unimaginable space, representable only in language, and as a kind of semi-mythical real site, examples of which include the mirror, the prison, the library, the garden and the brothel, the heterotopia seems inherently contradictory. However, through a reading of an often overlooked radio broadcast given by Foucault as part of a series on literature and utopia, this article demonstrates that the concept was never intended to refer to real urban sites, but rather pertains exclusively to textual representations of these sites. Subsequently, it looks to draw parallels between Foucault's remarks about the heterotopia and several examples of his literary criticism, on writers including Sade, Flaubert and Borges. In particular it draws attention to the similarities between Foucault's definitions of the heterotopia and the language he uses to describe the ‘placeless places’ of Blanchot's fiction, and to posit the heterotopia as an example of Blanchot's notion of literary contestation.
Book
This book provides an extended exploration of the multimodal analysis of spatial (three-dimensional) texts of the built environment, culminating in a holistic approach termed Spatial Discourse Analysis (SpDA). Based on existing frameworks frameworks of multimodal analysis, this book applies, adapts, and extends these frameworks to spatial texts. The authors argue that choices in spatial design create meanings about what we perceive and how we can or should behave within spatial texts, influence how we feel in and about those spaces, and enable these texts to function as coherent wholes. Importantly, a spatial text, once built, is also a resource which is then used, and an essential aspect of understanding these texts is to consider what users themselves contribute to the meaning potential of these texts. The book takes the metafunctional approach familiar from Systemic-Functional Linguistics (SFL) and foregrounds each metafunction in turn (textual, interpersonal, experiential, and logical), in relation to the detailed analysis of a particular spatial text.