Displacements: Readings of the Automaton Chess Player

Turk-engraving4
An engraving of the Turk taken Karl Gottlied von Windisch’s book Inanimate Reason (1784) Public Domain

John Sharples

‘I’ll be back …’

The Beatles, I’ll Be Back (1964)

 

This paper considers post-human chess-players in Raymond Bernard’s silent film Le Jouer d’échecs (Henceforth LJdé) (1927) and the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Henceforth T:TSCC) (2008-9). Each text presents an interpretation of the eighteenth-century Automaton Chess-Player, nicknamed the ‘Turk’, constructed by the Austro-Hungarian virtuoso Wolfgang von Kempelen and displayed initially at the court of the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa. Each presents its subject as the possessor of a monstrous identity which destabilises its immediate surroundings. Each presents an example of a past which has re-emerged. Each presents an uncanny hybrid of human and machine. Through the concept of displacement, three fragmented Gothic identities of the two Turks of LJdé and T:TSCC can be considered: the first concerns textual displacement, considering literary and textual transmission, historical trace, transformation, translation, and embellishment surrounding each text; the second concerns bodily displacement, or the way each Turk, although the product of human scientific and physical labour, transforms the categories of play and modernity into unfamiliar and strange spaces; and the third concerns displacement of power, specifically the violent encounters between the machines and regimes of spectacle and knowledge, and their relationship to traditional structures of the Family and Home. These aspects, comprising a small part of the two texts’ relationship to the Gothic as an ontological and epistemological strategy, demonstrate the nature and representation of Gothic subjects as the product of revelation and concealment, repetition and constant return.

Displacement, to retreat to the dictionary, means to take over the place or role of the subject in question and / or to move the subject from its proper or original place, either by force or otherwise. The prefix ‘dis-’, meaning removal or reversal, implies an alteration in the settled state of things. The enforcement of displacement, its sudden setback or termination, and its inversion of exteriority, coalesce with a number of concerns of ‘the Gothic’, principally its ‘concern with revenant history’[1] and its tendency to work against ‘the Enlightenment desire to systematize’, pursuing ‘a seemingly messier version of what it means to be a person’, as well as ‘represent[ing] an attempt not to destroy coherence but to provide an alternative context within which meaning is discussed.’[2] In the latter case, as an alternative epistemology, the Gothic bears similarity to the Enlightenment goal of seeking truth and restoring a form of order. Displacement runs through a number of theoretical influences in this paper. Monster theory suggests its subject’s power emerges not solely from embodiment, location, or effect, but, ‘primarily’ through ‘impact’, or ‘the vertigo of redefining one’s understanding of the world’,[3] with this redefinition appearing through varying degrees of shock and rupture. Theories of the uncanny base themselves on a rendering of formerly safe spaces as strange, and the essentialist qualities of the human as exterior; Anthony Vidler claims the favoured motifs of the uncanny concern ‘the contrast between a secure and homely interior’, ‘the fearful invasion of an alien presence’, and doubles (a particularly striking form of displacement) ‘experienced as a replica of the self, all the more fearsome because apparently the same’.[4] Hybridity, ‘a fusion and a disjunction, a conjoining of differences that cannot simply harmonize’[5]; vampirism, suggestive of otherness in place and time and the theft of life from normative bodies[6]; and the abject, concerning that which is normally pushed aside for one to continue living[7], also relate to the breakdown of borders and boundaries. Hence, displacement can occur not just in spatial terms, but in epistemological, ontological, and emotional terms.[8]

Textual Displacement

The two texts are the product of numerous tangled histories. Raymond Bernard’s silent LJdé (1927) – described as ‘a film featuring robots’[9] – shifts the location of Kempelen’s machine from Austro-Hungary northwards to the Russian empire and its sphere of influence. The geo-political setting is altered to one of instability rather than languid royal patronage. The story follows the adventures of a Polish patriot named Boleslaw Vorowski who becomes a wanted man after the incitement of a revolt against the  rule of Empress Catherine in 1776. Vorowski escapes to the home of Baron Kemplen (sic), a father-figure to Vorowski and his lover Sophie Vorowska. Kemplen constructs an automaton which appears to play chess mechanically and hides Vorowski inside. The revolt fails but the machine goes on tour. Ordered to play Catherine by the scheming Russian Major Nicolaieff who informs the Empress of the machine’s human operator, the Empress cheats. The ‘machine’ makes a false move and is executed by firing squad for insulting behaviour. Kemplen dies after substituting himself for Vorowski. Vorowski and Sophie embrace. Nicolaieff, meanwhile, has a deadly encounter with Kemplen’s automata. T:TSCC follows Sarah Connor and her son John after their efforts in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) to defer a computer-inspired apocalypse. In T:TSCC the threat reappears in the form of a chess-playing computer nicknamed ‘The Turk’, constructed by Andy Goode, suspected of being the origin of the Skynet program which infects global information networks, enslaving mankind. Destroyed by Sarah Connor, the machine is remade. The ‘New Turk’ loses at a computer-chess championship but its technology is stolen, and its creator Goode – a New Mexico cell-phone salesman and Caltech computer-science dropout, formerly a summer intern at Cyberdyne – is killed by a time-travelling resistance fighter. Goode’s code re-emerges within the anti-Skynet cyborg John Henry. Skynet appears despite these efforts.

These two texts are worthy of examination together for a number of reasons. Firstly, they both concern, in different ways, chess-playing machines. The similarities and differences between their respective representations reveals something of interest regarding the feelings which surround technological avatars and the specific concerns around the game of chess which has functioned in instances as a symbol of human-centric intelligence and of play. Secondly, the two texts both involve a complex relationship between the period portrayed in the visual medium and the viewer. Both are examples of time travel, presenting their respective chess-playing machines to the viewer who is aware of the future. In each, the technologies presented have an atmosphere of obsolescence around them – none more so than the mobile phones which Goode is selling. Thirdly, and most pressingly, both texts concern the relationship between surface and interior. Although the technologies of automaton and super-computer are superficially very different, there is an interplay between what is shown and what is hidden at work in both instances. Both technologies can appear as impenetrable black boxes, devoid of access points, yet, to name one expression of this relationship, both contain or possess the ingenuity of a human creator. These three themes coalesce substantially around two broader points – the relationship between the machine and the human body (considered broadly here), and the relationship between the machine and the application of power (again considered broadly). These two intersections structure the text below.

The Turks of both texts are, to consider chronological contexts, displacements of Kempelen’s ‘original’ Automaton Chess-Player – constructed in 1769, sold to showman Johann Nepomuk Maelzel, displayed in Europe, the USA, and South America, inspiring numerous imitators, and destroyed by fire in 1854[10] – an object which itself fit uneasily into the technological-landscape of the period, anticipating technological distress, solidifying contemporary combinations of virtuosic, political, and commercial power, and looking back towards medieval and early-modern reactions to representation. Whilst Voltaire could praise Jacques de Vaucanson, creator of automaton ducks and flute players, as ‘a rival to Prometheus’, it was Kempelen’s machine which proved problematic. Even as audiences acknowledged its interior trick, superficial presentation superseded all.[11] Although ‘an early Romantic image of exoticized techno-horror’, Kempelen’s Turk was never simply a ‘one-dimensional metaphor for the uncanny and uncivilized’ in which enlightenment triumphed over irrationalism.[12] Nevertheless, increasingly in the nineteenth century, automata were assigned new varieties of monstrous identities and cultural anxieities – identities and anxieties catalysed by a burgeoning literature on the subject, led by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) and E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann (1817) and Die Automate (1819). Enthusiastically imprecise reports of ‘a timber Frankenstein’ in descriptions of Kempelen’s chess-playing invention signalled the new Gothic life of the machine,[13] tapping into imagery of isolated alchemists[14] and crafters of homunculi’,[15] and theologically-tinged criticism of human-copies.[16] Subsequent Turks wore this messy series of signification, viewed as black boxes, their mysterious interior projected onto the surface, and black holes, enveloping and distorting the surrounding world. As spectacle representing human ingenuity and deception, each Turk remained a signal of death, a statue sent to warn and wonder at.[17]

The Turk of T:TSCC follows the developments of super-computer chess-players in the later part of the twentieth century. Goode, in his apartment, has a poster advertisement for the 2006 match between Vladimir Kramnik and the computer Deep Fritz. Andy explains that ‘Most people cite the ’97 Kasparov – Deep Blue as the watershed man versus machine chess match. But, uh … Fritz would have wiped the floor with Blue just like Kramnik did with Kasparov. Besides, the other poster’s impossible to find’.[18] Chess-literature would disagree with Goode’s assessment of the relative importance of the two matches. Coverage of the contests between IBM’s Deep Blue and Garry Kasparov, or, rather, Kasparov’s defeat, saw binary oppositions between ‘man vs. machine’ applied to the contest, ignoring the implicit post-human nature of both Kasparov and Deep Blue. The satirical Weekly World News, for example, parodying the contrast between the moody Kasparov and the silent machine – the fragile human and the obelisk technology – headlined an article ‘World Champion Chess Computer Throws Temper Tantrums’, describing how ‘the machine is spoiled, ill-tempered and high strung!’[19] Goode’s comment that the original poster for the Kasparov contest is ‘impossible to find’ also points to the well-honed commercial instincts of both Kasparov and IBM. The hacker spaces involved in the creation of Deep Blue have also been considered in various places, including Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess (2013), Vikram Jayanti’s Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine (2003), and IBM engineer Feng-Hsiung Hsu’s Behind Deep Blue: Building the Computer that Defeated the World Chess Champion (2002).[20] Bujalski’s film, in particular, throws the viewer into a cult-like world of filled with the enchanting glow and hum of technology. We see the ‘kaleidoscopic chess-player’.[21]

Analogously, complicated chronological identities surround the two texts. LJdé (1927) is a French silent film, directed by Raymond Bernard, based on Henry Dupuy-Mazuel’s 1926 novel – itself based on a pervasive fiction concerning the Turk concocted by French conjurer Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin within his Confidences d’un prestidigitateur (1858) which stated that a Polish amputee secretly operated the machine. An 1878 Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly article described a ‘little Russian officer’, suggesting another geographical diversion whilst the Encyclopedia Britannica also recorded Houdin’s tale which ‘spawned two novels, two plays, two movies, and at least one short story’.[22] Bernard’s adaptation saw Kemplen lose a vowel but keep his legs. Likewise, The Terminator series has also seen numerous rebirths. T:TSCC (2008-9) is a television series based on the cinematic universe of James Cameron’s Terminator franchise (1984-), overwriting the plot of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003). Alternate timelines of the resistance and Miles Dyson’s Skynet are shown in flash forward, whilst scenes from the present day alter future events. Judgment Day (when computers take over the world) is viewed as both a fluid possibility and a fixed event, suggestive of a Gothic tendency, the monstrous return. Mutations and in-jokes abound. Cameron Philips is a cyborg – Terminator Class TOK715 – named after the series’ originator, created by Cyberdyne Systems. Their appearance is based on Allison Young, a resistance fighter in the future. Cyberdyne intern Andy Goode adopts the name William Wisher to disguise his role in Skynet’s creation, referencing Cameron’s co-writer. Sarah and John Connor adopt the alias Baum, referencing L. Frank Baum, writer of the Oz series. The cyborg John Henry refers to the nineteenth-century African-American folk hero, said to have out-drilled a steam-powered machine, only to collapse and die after victory. The connections between narrative and historical events transmit culturally-determined intentions and highlight the physical presence of each Turk within the visual image.

 

Bodily Displacement

Both T:TSCC and LJdé, as is clear from the outlines above, are human stories. The machine’s intersection with the human body frequently brings with it danger and death whilst the cultural anxieties surrounding the visually different Turks contain substantially the fear of human obsolescence and concern over the fragility of human bodies. To engage with these strategies requires a consideration of the machines as physical objects in the world. The well-known idea of statues as ‘dead people cast in bronze’[23] or its Gothic inverse of being ‘buried alive’ demand that the Turks and the texts which represent them be considered not just as ‘interlacing[s] of physicality and representation in three dimensions’ – as bodies-in-the-world or ‘being(s)-in-the-world’[24] – but as outbursts of cultural anxiety surrounding the notions of physical and mental representation. Even under modern, technological masks each chess-playing machine is an outsider come to town – death invades life and otherness threatens to overspill its boundaries. This form of displacement is seen in abundance in both texts even outside the chess-playing figures. For example, after his on-screen death in LJdé, Kemplen re-appears as an automaton, haunting his workshop, his death mirrored by a doubling as life-like as before. T:TSCC depicts the cyborg Cameron staring at a computer screen on which is playing a camera-feed focused on their face. Each is suggestive of the uncanny feelings highlighted by representation in general. Yet, the Turks also represent a form of representation beyond the physical through their imitation of an act generally interpreted as requiring intellect or the application of mental faculties thought, in the late-medieval, early-modern, and modern periods at least in some form, to exclude non-humans. Whilst Fred Botting argues that the uncanny ‘becomes an affect of a disturbed present. It is less the revenance of a lost or supressed human nature (against the artifices of modern culture) and more a product of scientific and technical innovation’,[xxv] both aspects seem pertinent to the Turk’s identity in all its forms, particularly when going beyond straightforward mirroring of surface appearance. Confusing the boundary between the natural and artificial, Automaton Chess-Players represent an intrusion into the human mind, through replication and multiplication of human knowledge and human society, through superficial imitation of play. Hence, the haunting nature of such devices – occupying the space between material and immaterial bodies, between grey matter and inorganic mechanisms – and their shared state of excess (displacement through addition). In each case, this sense of displacement of the human, and the inherent monstrosity of such displacement, is evident in the appearance of each but also in the figure of the cultural chess-player (flesh, wood, metal, or silicon) in general. As a figure appearing in the cultural space left empty by God in the eighteenth century when café became Church, when Promethean power seemed in the hands of new virtuosi, the chess-player become a vector for the mastery of mind over myth. A consequence of this transformation was to bring the chess-player closer to Gothic form. Both the mechanical chess-player, and the mechanical human chess-player, generated debate and concern about bodily limits, the use of specific mental faculties, and the use of one’s time, in common with the persistent Gothic ‘fascination with transgression and the anxiety over cultural limits and boundaries’.[26]

 

In Bernard’s LJdé, the machine, like Kempelen’s original, is in the appearance of a Turkish male. The machine is roughly composed of a wooden box, upon which the chess-board used in the game is placed, and in which the machinery supposedly utilised for the mechanisation of the game was housed. At the table sat a wooden figure of a man with an elaborate moustache, an enormous oversized spherical headdress, wearing ornate jewellery and a jacket with a patterned design. Meanwhile, the first sighting of the Turk in T:TSCC, at the home of creator Andy Goode, is as a stack of chaotic, exposed electronic components, wires, and a tangle of computer gear in a cupboard. ‘Not the original Turk’, he notes, referencing Kempelen. The home-grown electronics wiz-kid image looms large, not to mention the idea of the locked room and the contemporary idea of a home-grown hacker or bomb-maker. There is a violence inherent in each of these objects, exaggerated by their appearance, fashion, or materiality, and through the spaces they occupy. Each machine represents a displacement of chess-play, escaping from seemingly secure categories of play, or self-chosen, directed activities, often divorced from the consequences of real-life, where ends are subdued to means.[27] Each machine operates outside of human actions, unmooring chess from secure footings within Enlightenment ways of thinking and ontological certainties. Each machine performs a task, as the Oxford English Dictionary quaintly puts it, normally carried out ‘between two persons’.[28] Such displacement foregrounds these objects as subjects of spectacle, as mirror-like experiences – staring back, flashing and beeping, they practically shout LOOK AT ME / LOOK INSIDE ME! The human chess-player in both texts is displaced as the vanguard of human intelligence, at least in LJdé’s case before the secret is discovered.[29] Andy Goode and his (second) Turk attend the Southern California Computer Chess International, held between computers. The spectacle sees humans only as passive spectators or movers of the chess-pieces on behalf of the machine – Goode is removed from the mental act of chess-play, becoming only a puppet carrying out the machine’s orders. As John Connor explains to his mother, ‘Computer versus computer. It’s the new thing. These programs are too smart and powerful to play people anymore’.[30]

 

In each text, the half-human-ness of the machine, as doubles, alter egos, and mirrors represent the ‘disturbing parts of human identity’.[31] Kemplen and Goode are not so far apart as mad scientists. The excess present in each machine reflects on their creators and occupants. Andy Goode’s construction of his Turk takes a physical toll. He says the Turk took eight years to construct and that ‘one month, [he] worked so much on a motherboard that [he] lost [his] sight for three days’.[32] In each case, the machine invades the private sphere, interfering with the individual and the family, appearing as a Gothic child. Goode marvels at his Turk’s moods and changing patterns of behaviour. A consumptive aspect is elaborated on when Goode introduces his colleague who teaches the machine how to play chess, feeding it old chess-matches.[33] Goode’s techno-baby turns out to be a murderer, a world-devouring monster, leading to his death in both timelines – the first due to Skynet and the second due to the preventative measures of the human resistance. Likewise, Kemplen’s child (his machine) protects his surrogate son, Vorowski, and Father and Baby die together to protect Vorowski and his future wife, Sophie. Both Turks leads to the death of both fathers. Without their children, they would survive – an intriguing moral. T:TSCC further emphasises the monster-as-child theme when Andy, describing his first Turk to Sarah, talks of the machine’s moods, how it solves problems differently on different days, and, as Sarah adds, discusses it as if it were ‘human’.[34] Goode’s ‘New Turk’ sees the metaphor extended. The machine is ‘More adaptable, but less predictable. Not as powerful for now, but quicker on its feet. It has a hunger for learning … if you want an analogy, I’d say that Turk I had grown into a brooding teenager, and Turk II is still more of a precocious child’.[35] Flash forward to the future, we see Goode (using the assumed name William Wisher) and resistance leader Derek Reese captured by the Skynet Machine Network. Goode confesses, before Derek sets in motion the plan to go back and time and kill him, that Skynet was his fault, stemming from his work on the Turk. He admits ‘I built a computer. A mind. It became angry. And scared.[36] The baby-as-monster again highlights elements of displaced emotion and intellectual strength. Suddenly what was under control escapes its boundaries.

 

Displacement of Power

Parental themes concerning the two Turks can be considered more broadly in relation to wider spheres of influence. The issue of power highlights the multiple forces directing the creators and the ability of the machines to operate freely. Kemplen and Goode’s creations emerge in the gap between institutional power and its enforcement within marginal spaces. Both are guarded by technology – an alarm system fitted to Goode’s apartment and Kemplen’s robot-soldiers – yet both spaces are susceptible to attack. As powerful as each appears, exterior institutions threaten, constrain, or acquire the ability of each machine or maker to impact outside chess-play. Like any child, the machines need protection and nurturing which is not always achievable. Sarah burns down Goode’s home. Kemplen’s machine and abode are surveilled or infiltrated, with fatal consequences, by Nicolaieff. The Empress orders Kemplen’s machine killed and anti-Skynet forces (the resistance and the Zeira Corporation) acquire Goode’s technology. However, the automata workshop and the modern-day computer-hacker space where each machine is produced are geographically separate from society. The everyday rituals of morning, afternoon, and night lose their hold. Symbols of technological civilisation on the one hand, these spaces are often removed from civilisation, created away from the gaze of power. Linda Strauss claims that typical places for automata include tombs, temples, theatres, stages of magicians, laboratories, and labyrinths – all liminal places on the boundary of life and death, the natural and artificial, the divine and secular.[37] A further distinction can be made between such spaces in terms of places of construction or performance. It is only after the ‘performance’ or revealing of each machine that they come under threat. It is only in their performance that a sense of oversight of human activities is restored, connecting each machine to regimes of power through association with royal patronage and military-industrial complexes, both closing and confirming their spatial separation and their revivals of the past. The re-appearance of the motif of the automata workshop in early-twenty-first century television demonstrates the underlying continuities underneath the superficial changes. Goode works, upon first encounter, at a mobile phone store, uneasily, if not entirely effectively, linking personal technologies with global communication systems susceptible to attack. Changes in appearance cannot hide the shared underlying anxieties represented across time frames and spatial scenarios.

 

Both LJdé and T:TSCC seemingly foreground surface elements of their respective machines. Yet, both attract more complex patterns of signification. In LJdé, the box hides a military rebel. In the latter, Sarah Connor suggests there is nothing to learn of the machine through a detailed look at its internal components. Kempelen’s original performances placed great emphasis on the presentational aspects related to revelation, openness, and transparency. Through a clever arrangement of mirrors, limber occupants, and stagecraft, early shows convinced the audience the machine contained only mechanism. In T:TSCC, John Connor asks his mother what the machine looked like, what network capabilities and cooling systems it possessed, receiving a dismissive answer. Her ‘who cares what it looks like? … just a rack of computer equipment’ suggests a pre-existing chain of meaning, the knowledge that looking inside will not reveal more information, and a reliance on impact[38] rather than appearance. Everything necessary for understanding is already on the surface or known through the anticipated Judgment Day. For Sarah Connor, it does not matter what the machine looks like if they know it will become the murderous Skynet. Indeed, in both texts, the exterior of the machines is read, they are surfaces where morality and intention play out to an extent. Kemplen’s avatar and his Turk become reminders of his death, haunting presences, affirmations of his technical skill and defiance of power. In this moment, Kemplen’s devices become statues, not in the sense simply of a static structure, but, as Michel Serres suggests, of an item which suggests spectacle, horror, repetition, divine mimicry, human cost, and the role of an expert in creating a death-machine. This concept of the statue, which both machines share, brings together the idea of the Gothic as involving ‘the legacies of the past [or future] and its burden on the present; the radically provisional or divided nature of the self [seen most visibly in Kempelen’s look-alike statue, but also in Goode’s obsessive work]; the construction of peoples or individuals as monstrous or “other”; [and] the pre-occupation with bodies that are modified, grotesque or diseased’.[39] More so than this, Kempelen’s, Kemplen’s and Goode’s devices represent incursions of the other into the flow of everyday life – as ‘incorporation of the Outside’ in Cohen’s term,[40] and an already lurking tendency of modernity.[41]

Both Turks in LJdÉ and T:TSCC emblematise the interplay between surface and interior. In the case of Kempelen’s machine, Cook notes that ‘dubious authenticity defined the object on display – made it curious’.[42] Regarding this curiosity, he quotes contemporary observer Karl von Windisch’s comment on the absolutism and democracy of the Turk’s performance – absolutist since ‘Kempelen alone’ held the secret and democratic since all its observers, including any watching Empresses, ‘ultimately could do no more than offer inconclusive guesses’[43] – at least without violent incursion into the machine itself. The presentation of the two machines in LJdÉ and T:TSCC is equally suggestive of the link between spectacle, commerce, virtuosity, and violence seen frequently in the display of monstrous subjects. The chess-knowledge of the Turk in Andy Goode’s machine is human knowledge displaced as is the appearance of Kemplen’s machine. At the computer-chess tournament in T:TSCC, the space becomes a haunted house, an attraction, full of strange creatures, seemingly constrained by observation and media control, abstracted to the point of absurdity.[44] The winner of the tournament is awarded a military contract which, in addition to the looming spectre of Skynet, adds a sense of invading danger. Kemplen’s machine in LJdÉ is not viewed by Catherine as equal, but a device to demonstrate her control, despite the translation of the action to Russia and Poland significantly diminishing the cultural power of the Turk’s Oriental appearance, but still suggestive of exoticism and superstition.[45] In both cases, states of exteriority are subjugated to power – Empress Catherine or the military contractors of T:TSCC – in ceremonial performances. In these examinations, or, as Michel Foucault put it, ‘parades’, ‘the “subjects” were represented as “objects” to the observation of a power that was manifest only by its gaze. They did not receive directly the image of the sovereign body; they only felt its effects … on their bodies, which had become precisely legible and docile’.[46] After undergoing this examination, both Turks are destroyed or subjected to violence.

Final Moves

LJdÉ and T:TSCC provide two readings of the Gothic chess-player. Their effects on the reader and viewer can be framed through the concept of displacement. Displacement highlights the confused temporalities of each object; the performance by each machine of aspects formerly located within the realm of human activity outside these outdated boundaries; the vampiric tendency of Gothic objects; the nature of the Automaton Chess-Player as an intertextual object, constantly made to fit new circumstances and represent contemporary anxieties; and the signification of otherness. Automata in general, ‘machines in the form of humans and as humans who perform like machines … broached the issues of determinism and free will’,[47] creating an alternative line of thought concerning the application of reason and its visible effects. The haunted house of Andy Goode, with its locked room containing the Turk, opened by a key kept around his neck, and Kemplen’s secret workshop hide-away, demonstrate the tendency of monstrous automata to reside in darkened spaces, symbolically away from Enlightened conditions, whilst being products of Enlightened cultures. The family dynamic in each text, with Andy and Kemplen as fathers and the machines as children, foreground themes of domesticity and a seemingly conservative socio-political structure which Sarah Connor and Kemplen try to maintain in the face of disruption from the wider forces of Empire, technology, and the military-industrial complex. In each case, the re-emergence of the Automaton Chess-Player frequently and persistently across time and cultural contexts marks the presence of Gothic themes such as monstrosity, hybridism, and the uncanny. The articulation of these messages demonstrates the Turk as a cultural-statue able to articulate anxieties, collective fears, and persistent cultural nightmares, and an object both ‘way ahead of [its] time – time that otherwise seemed to flow at an otherwise sluggish pace’[xlviii] and ‘pre-historic’.[xlix]

[1] Catherine Spooner, ‘Goth Culture’, A New Companion to the Gothic, ed. David Punter (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015), p. 351.

[2] William Hughes, David Punter, & Andrew Smith, ‘Introduction’, The Encyclopedia of the Gothic, eds. William Hughes, David Punter, & Andrew Smith (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2013), p. xxiii.

[3] Asa Simon Mittman, ‘Introduction – The Impact of Monsters and Monster Studies’, The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous, ed. Asa Simon Mittman with Peter Dendle (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), pp. 7-8.

[4] Anthony Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely (Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press, 1992), p. 3. Although this is not the place for a fuller discussion of the basis of the concept of ‘the uncanny’ as a concept, see, of course, Sigmund Freud, ‘The Uncanny’ (1919), in Sigmund Freud: Art and Literature, ed. J. Strachey (London: Penguin, 1990), pp. 335-376, and, more particularly, Nicholas Royce, The Uncanny (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), for its discussion of technology as potentially uncanny, pp. 1-3, 24, 36-7.

[5] Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Hybridity, Identity and Monstrosity in Medieval Britain: On Difficult Middles (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 2.

[6] Milly Williamson, ‘Introduction’, The Lure of the Vampire: Gender, Fiction and Fandom from Bram Stoker to Buffy (London: Wallflower Press, 2005), pp. 1-4.

[7] Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), p. 4.

[8] The primary literature on chess-machines is extensive. Ken Whyld’s Fake Automata In Chess (1994) lists 767 primary and secondary sources in myriad languages on the matter. Perhaps the most applicable philosophical suggestion has been John Hartmann’s notion that due to the various technologies involved in chess-play, the human chess-player ‘is, practically speaking, a cyborg’ (John Hartmann, ‘4. Garry Kasparov Is a Cyborg, or What ChessBase Teaches Us about Technology’, Philosophy Looks At Chess, ed. Benjamin Hale (Chicago: Open Court, 2008), p. 39).

[9] ‘A Film Featuring Robots’, New York Times (19 May 1930).

[10] James Cook, The Arts of Deception: Playing with Fraud in the Age of Barnum (Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 2001), p. 72.

[11] Quoted in Bill Seaman & Otto Rössler, Neosentience: The Benevolence Engine (Bristol: Intellect, 2011), p. 110.

[12] Cook, Arts of Deception, p. 44. Almost concurrently, as the chess-playing machine seemed to be thoroughly debunked as a genuine display of mechanical intelligence, a new cultural language emerged which re-enchanted Kempelen’s device.

[13] George Walker, ‘Anatomy of a Chess Automaton’, Fraser’s Magazine (June 1839), pp. 718.

[14] See: Elly Truitt, ‘From Magic to Mechanism: Medieval Automata, 1100-1500’ (PhD Dissertation, Harvard University, 2007).

[15] Karen Pinkus, ‘Automata’, Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art, ed. Helene Roberts (London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998), p. 86.

[16] See: Henny Fiskå Hägg, Clement of Alexandria and Beginnings of Christian Apophaticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 31.

[17] Michel Serres, Statues: The Second Book of Foundations, trans. Randolph Burks (London: Bloomsbury, 2015).

[18] ‘The Turk’. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [Hereafter: T;TSCC]. Fox. 21 January 2008. TV.

[19] Randy Jeffries, ‘World Champion Chess Computer Throws Temper Tantrums!’, Weekly World News, 8 July 1997, p. 15.

[20] Computer Chess. Dir. Andrew Bujalski. Independent. 2013. Film; Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine. Dir. Vikram Jayanti. Alliance. 2003. Film; and Feng-Hsiung Hsu, Behind Deep Blue: Building the Computer that Defeated the World Chess Champion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002).

[21] John Sharples, A Cultural History of Chess-Players: Minds, Machines and Monsters (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017), p. 1, and chapters four and five for more consideration of the automaton chess-player, chess-playing machines, and haunted houses.

[22] Bradley Ewart, Chess: Man vs. Machine (London: A.S. Barnes, 1980), p. 245.

[23] Katherine Verdery quoted in David Martin, Curious Visions of Modernity: Enchantment, Magic, and the Sacred (Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press, 2011), p. xvi.

[24] David Getsy, ‘Acts of Stillness: Statues, Performativity, and Passive Resistance’, Criticism, 56:1 (Winter 2014), p. 17.

[25] Fred Botting, Limits of Horror: Technology, Bodies, Gothic (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008), p. 7.

[26] Fred Botting, Gothic (London: Routledge, 1996), p. 1.

[27] Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955), pp. 8-11, 12, 105.

[28] Chess, n., Oxford English Dictionary. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/31383 [Accessed 1 November 2016].

[29] The automaton is a human performing as a machine performing as a human.

[30] ‘Queen’s Gambit’. T:TSCC. 11 February 2008. See contemporary opinion on the possibility of mechanised reason: ‘Oxford Graduate’, Observations on the Automaton Chess Player (London: J. Hatchard, 1819), pp. 7-8 and Philip Thicknesse, The Speaking Figure and the Automaton Chess-Player (London: John Stockdale, 1784), p. 17.

[31] Botting, Gothic, pp. 7-8.

[32] ‘The Turk’. T:TSCC. 21 January 2008.

[33] See: Stephen Bruhm, ‘Nightmare on Sesame Street: or, The Self-Possessed Child’, Gothic Studies, 8:2 (2006), pp. 98-113, p. 98.

[34] ‘The Turk’. T:TSCC. 21 January 2008.

[35] ‘Queen’s Gambit’. T:TSCC. 11 February 2008.

[36] ‘Dungeons & Dragons’. T:TSCC. 18 February 2008.

[37] Linda Strauss, quoted in Wendy Hyman, ‘Introduction’, The Automaton in English Renaissance Literature, ed. Wendy Hyman (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), p. 5, footnote eleven.

[38] Noel Carroll, quoted in Mittman, ‘Introduction’, Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous, ed. Mittman with Dendle, p. 8.

[39] Catherine Spooner, Contemporary Gothic (London: Reaktion, 2006), p. 8.

[40] Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, ‘Monster Culture (Seven Theses)’, Monster Theory: Reading Culture, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), p. 7.

[41] See: Martin, Curious Visions, pp. xvi-xvii.

[42] Cook, Arts of Deception, p. 65.

[43] Ibid., p. 42.

[44] Vidler, Architectural Uncanny, p. 18.

[45] Cook, Arts of Deception., p. 43.

[46] Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (1979) quoted in Martin, Curious Visions, p. 71.

[47] Simon Schaffer, ‘Enlightened Automata’, The Sciences in Enlightened Europe, eds. William Clark, Jan Golinski, & Simon Schaffer (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1999), pp. 126-8.

[48] Siegfried Zielinski, Deep Time of the Media (Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press, 2008), p. 165.

[49] Laura Lunger Knoppers & Joan Landes, ‘Introduction’, Monstrous Bodies / Political Monstrosities: In Early Modern Europe, eds. Laura Lunger Knoppers & Joan Landes (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2004), p. 6.

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