Cyborg Incorporated: Mechanics, Aesthetics, and Cyborg Narrativity in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome and eXistenZ

Meike Robaard

Publication: Volume 3 Issue 2

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Abstract

Reflecting on the ubiquity of screens in contemporary life, this paper seeks to suggest that we inhabit a “cyborgian condition” in which (human) bodies (and self-understanding) are composed with technology. Upon analyzing David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983) and eXistenZ (1999), and in engaging with existent theoretical discourse, this paper studies the movement and appearance of arguably posthuman performing bodies on the screen, and the ways in which they can be accounted for as special narrative vehicles. Drawing upon Donna Haraway’s primarily text-based exploration of the cyborg’s radical potentiality, and Daniel Punday’s literary analysis of corporeal narratology, this paper introduces the concept of “cyborg narrativity” by emphasizing the unique “aesthetic” and “mechanical” properties of cinematic (that is, visual) storytelling. In examining cyborg typologies and presenting “cyborg narrativity” as a way of approaching the “new” body image(s) that technological changes propel, this paper incorporates Cronenberg as a co-theorist, making visible new ways of understanding “being(s) in technology.”

Keywords: Cyborg, body-horror, posthumanism, David Cronenberg, cinematography, corporeality, narrative, aesthetics, technology

Meike Robaard (meikerobaard@gmail.com) is a recent summa cum laude graduate in American Studies (BA) and Philosophy (Honour’s BA) at the University of Groningen, Netherlands. As a young, curious, aspiring scholar and artist, she is interested, amongst other topics, in interdisciplinary questions regarding, and creative approaches to, posthumanism, the cultural significance of (fictional) monsters, and social, political, and historical representations of bodies and technologies in literature and cinema across various time periods.