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“Her Rights: The Turk of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” [2019]

AOYAGI Natsumi

“Her Rights: The Turk of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”


This work is based on research related to the stories of “The Turk,” a chess-playing automaton made in 1770 by Wolfgang von KEMPELEN, and Frankenstein’s monster that Mary SHELLEY created in 1818 at the age of nineteen.

The Turk attracted people’s interest as a machine with the intelligence to play chess—and even win most matches—against humans. Its mechanism remained a mystery at the time, however, which Edgar Allan POE tried to solve in his essay “Maelzel’s Chess-Player.” Only decades later it became evident that “The Turk” was in fact operated by a human chess master who was hidden in the chest underneath the doll.

The stories of von KEMPELEN’s Turk and Frankenstein’s monster may be understood as metaphors of how these people’s creations surpassed their respective creators’ expectations. From the anti-tech Luddite movement that occurred as a reaction against the industrial revolution in the 19th century, to contemporary concerns about artificial intelligence and how it may steal people’s jobs, and furthermore, to the “transhumanist” attempts of mankind to update through science and technology the conditions for humans to survive, machines have been inspiring us through their very existence to reconsider the relationship
between machines and us humans. In reference to such things, along with the fact that there once was an age when being female hindered creators from publishing their works (which prompted SHELLEY to unveil her “Frankenstein” anonymously), AOYAGI discusses issues of media technology and gender in the present age.

Cinematography: IIOKA Yukiko
Cast: AOYAGI Asami
Production: WADA Shintaro
Cooperation: Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts



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