Programming gender: surveillance, identity, and paranoia in Ex Machina

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This article examines the 2015 film Ex Machina as a cultural text that exemplifies the technologization of gender within algorithmic culture. Analysing different textual elements — the narrative diegesis, the marketing material, and the digital techniques used in the VFX post-production process—I argue that gender is consistently figured as a kind of technology. That is, gender is systematised, codified, and reduced to a programmed set of instructions that can be used by machines to manipulate and deceive. I argue that understanding gender through its figuration with the technological, specifically through code and algorithms, raises pertinent issues concerning surveillance, race, and bias. This is reflected in the film through a problematic representation of racialised figures, particularly techno-Orientalist tropes of labouring Asian bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-64
Number of pages19
JournalCultural Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • automated culture
  • Ex Machina
  • gender
  • surveillance capitalism

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