Bruno Schulz has written: 'Matter never makes jokes; it is always full of the tragically serious. Who dares to think that you can play with matter, that you can shape it for a joke, that the joke will not be built in, will not eat into it like fate, like destiny?' This article explores both the joke and the tragic fate of two culturally significant robots—one a 'boy toy' and the other a 'toy boy' – jointly conceived to matter by Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001). These 'love machines' are designed to enact male performative desire for a woman but dramatize two quite contradictory masculine visions of our displaced technological existence: one a hard-bodied 'sex machine', the other vulnerable and impotent. Bringing their seeming opposition into complementary conjunction, A.I. says something important (and sad) about the limits of the contemporary technological (masculine) imagination.


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pp. 1-13
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