Four weeks on Wednesdays from 12th February – 4th March 2020, 7:00-9:00pm

Course Leader: Dr Alfie Bown, journalist and lecturer at University of London

The course will take place in the Community Room at Crouch End Picturehouse.

From dating apps and virtual relationships to simulators and sex robots, relationships are being transformed by new technologies that challenge long-standing ideas of what love is. Today these developments mean that our desires can be predicted, planned and programmed in ways never before imagined – except perhaps by the movies. This course will look at new technologies and examine the ways in which they might affect and re-organize our relationships today. We will also look at how these dystopian trends have been anticipated by filmmakers and will look at a range of films from Velodrome (1983), Electric Dreams (1984) and Mannequin (1987) through to Ex Machina (2014) and Her (2013) as a means to discuss how the relationship between love and technology has changed over the last 4 decades.

Week One: Love of Objects This week discusses the way film has explored the love of objects, from the fetishization of the commodity to the romantic and sexual attraction towards objects and things. We’ll consider various theoretical ideas on the subject of objects and desire – from feminist to Marxist approaches – and consider how the film industry has explored the shifting relationship between people and their things.

Suggested Viewing: Mannequin (1987).

Week Two: Mediated Love Week two considers the representation of love as mediated by technology and the internet. How did the film industry imagine the transformation of relationships, friendships and sex in the age of the internet, and were its predictions accurate? This session will discuss the algorithms and interfaces used by online dating apps and other pieces of technology that influence the love industry today and consider whether films saw these changes coming. 

Suggested Viewing: You’ve Got Mail (1998).

Week Three: Internet Friends This week considers relationships that are not necessarily sexual as they have been impacted by suggestive algorithms, digital platforms and online forums and meetings spaces. Technology has not only significantly transformed the love industry but the construction and maintenance of friendships and working relationships.

Suggested Viewing: The Social Network (2010) and Catfish (2010)

Week Four: AI Love The final week of the module discusses the politics and representations of AI as they have been explored in recent film. It considers virtual relationships from the real world in the form of AI chatbots, VR relationships and dating simulators, asking whether the films which have approached this topic have successfully depicted the development of this technology.

Suggested Viewing: Her (2013) and Ex Machina (2015)

A small amount of reading material will be distributed in week one.

Tickets are £70 for the full four-week course (£65 concession / £60 Picturehouse Members).

  • Release Date :
  • 06 Dec 2019
  • Certificate :
  • TBC
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