Emanuela Piga Bruni

Panel 5F: Transcoding Television
Session 5 – July 3, 11:00 – 13:00

From Cyberpunk to Posthuman: Re-mediations of the Conscious Robot

The icon of the artificial creature has been represented in contemporary art through all media and with different codes of representation. Here I propose to explore there representations under a comparative and intermediary perspective throughout the analysis of the animated film Ghost in the Shell (1995) and the TV series Westworld (2016-).

The cyberpunk anime film Ghost in the Shell, directed by Mamoru Oshii, is part of a large media franchise based on the 1988 manga of the same name by Masamune Shiro. It is a sophisticated and refined work, visually gratifying and aesthetically pleasing, that leads to think at and deal with many issues related to the “conscious anthropomorphic robot”, beyond the borders of the cyberpunk aesthetic that was hegemonic during the nineties.

Westworld is a television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, produced by the American television network HBO. The first two seasons, each consisting of ten episodes, aired between 2016 and 2018. In Italy the series was broadcast in simulcast on the satellite channel Sky Atlantic with the title Westworld, Dove tutto è concesso. A third season is completed and scheduled to premiere in spring 2020. The work is an adaptation of a famous 1973 film of the same name, directed by Michael Crichton, distributed in Italy under the title Il mondo dei robot. The film was a great success in the seventies and it has become a cult in the dystopian imaginary linked to artificial intelligence. The TV series adaptation is an expansion and a free rewrite which, for its multilinearity and metariflexivity, is an example of what Jason Mittell called “Complex TV” (2015).

In the analysis of this two works it is possible to trace “intermedia references” (Irina Rajewsky, 2002) and re-mediations, and pursue the objective of reflecting on the artistic modalities through which, by means of different codes and forms, they contribute to the contemporary thoughts on posthuman as cultural criticism and philosophical and aesthetic meditations.


Emanuela Piga Bruni is associate professor of Comparative Literature at the Universitas Mercatorum of Rome. Her publications include: the books La lotta e il negativo. Sul romanzo storico contemporaneo (2018) and Romanzo e serie TV. Critica sintomatica dei finali di puntata (2018); the edited volumes Tecnologia, immaginazione, forme del narrare (2014) and L’immaginario politico. Impegno, resistenza, ideologia (2015), both special issues of the academic journal “Between”; the essays “La ribellione delle macchine. Westworld: dall’apocalisse alla genesi”, in Oltre l’adattamento?Narrazioni espanse: intermedialità, transmedialità, virtualità, Eds. M. Fusillo, M. Lino, L. Faienza, L. Marchese (2020); “L’umano nell’epoca della riproducibilità tecnica: l’inconscio artificiale nella fantascienza “, in Immaginare l’impossibile: trame della creatività tra letteratura e scienza, Eds. L. Boi, F. D’Intino, G.V. Distefano (2019). She  is member of the editorial board of the academic journals “Between” and “Scritture Migranti”.