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Questioning Cinema: Ex Machina



James Branch Cabell Library, Multipurpose Room (Room 250)
901 Park Avenue, Richmond, VA 23284


Explore the science and social impact of robotics, artificial intelligence and human/computer interaction as portrayed in Alex Garland's 2015 science-fiction drama Ex Machina. At the event, attendees will view the film, then investigate and discuss the themes behind it, learning to use library and online resources to question what we've been told.

  • 5 p.m. — screening begins
  • 7 p.m. — pizza and discussion

This event is free and open to the public, but please register. Parking is available for a fee in the West Broad Street, West Main Street and West Cary Street parking decks. If special accommodations are needed, or to register offline, please call Gregory Kimbrell, events coordinator, at (804) 828-0593 prior to January 26, 2016.


Please complete this online form.

About the Movie

A reclusive CEO of an Internet company invites one of his young programmers to test the artificial intelligence of his new creation—a beautiful, female robot. But who is testing the human qualities of whom? Written and directed by Alex Garland (writer for The Beach, Sunshine and 28 Days Later) and starring Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Sonoya Mizuno.

"Shrewdly imagined and persuasively made, Ex Machina is a spooky piece of speculative fiction that's completely plausible, capable of both thinking big thoughts and providing pulp thrills." — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Watch the trailer and learn more about the film.

Discussion Leaders

Milos Manic: Dr. Manic is a professor in the VCU Department of Computer Science and director of the Modern Heuristics Research Group. He has over 20 years of academic and industrial experience. In the role of principal investigator, he led a number of research grants with the National Science Foundation, the Idaho EPSCoR, the Department of Energy, the Idaho National Laboratory, the Department of the Air Force, Hewlett-Packard, and Fujitsu Labs of America in the area of artificial intelligence and data mining in human-machine interaction, visualization and energy security. He has previously served in tenured positions at the University of Idaho and the University of Nis, Serbia; as director of the Computer Science Program at Idaho Falls; and as fellow of the Brain Korea 21 Program, Seoul, in 2008.

Alexandra Martelli: Ms. Martelli is a doctoral student in social psychology. Her research focuses on romantic relationships and how to foster relationship satisfaction in couples suffering from anxiety and depression. Additional interests include mindfulness training to improve interpersonal functioning. She came to VCU with a BS in psychology from George Mason University.

John C. Powers (moderator): Dr. Powers is an associate professor in the VCU Department of History. He holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science from Indiana University. His research focuses on the history of chemistry and alchemy in the 17th and 18th centuries, natural philosophy and medicine in early modern universities and the development of empirical, experimental and pedagogical methods in science. His book, Inventing Chemistry: Herman Boerhaave and the Reform of the Chemical Arts, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2012. His current research focuses on the development of chemical thermometry and the impact of the thermometer on the chemical arts (brewing, ceramics, pharmacy), experimentation and theories of heat. He regularly teaches classes on revolutions in science, the history of technology and the history of epidemics, as well as and senior seminars on "Evolution and Society" and "Science and Society in the Enlightenment." In the spring of 2016, he will be teaching a class on the history of computing.

Jennifer S. Rhee: Dr. Rhee is an assistant professor in the VCU Department of English and affiliate faculty in the Media, Art & Text Program. She works on connections between literature and science, with a focus on contemporary American literature and new media. Her recent research explores cultural depictions of robotics, artificial intelligence and surveillance technology. Dr. Rhee comes to VCU with a Ph.D. in literature and critical theory from Duke University, a BA from Princeton University and post-doctoral fellowships at the Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Emory University and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania State University.


Questioning Cinema is sponsored by VCU Libraries and the Science, Technology and Society Program in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences.

Image: Ex Machina movie poster


VCU Libraries

James Branch Cabell Library Monroe Park Campus
901 Park Ave., Box 842033
Richmond, VA 23284-2033
Toll-free: (844) 352-7399
(804) 828-1111
All Libraries
Tompkins-McCaw Library MCV Campus
509 N. 12th St., Box 980582
Richmond, VA 23298-0582
Toll-free: (844) 352-7399
(804) 828-0636

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