Transgressed Boundaries

Haraway argued that the cyborg myth was about transgressed boundaries, powerful reappropriation and fractured identities (Haraway 1991, 295). The cyborg image therefore remains relevant to us today because of the perspective it can give us in thinking about the relationship between human’s physicality and digital technology.  Sleep Dealer depicts a world where transnational flows of labour and power are made available and easily accessible through technology, where drone pilots in America can tear down buildings in Mexico and labourers in Mexico can construct new buildings in America. The drone that Rudy controls acts as a transnational disembodied destroyer of real bodies. On the other hand, the disembodied operation of construction robots produces damaging effects on Memo’s eyes. The technology of the “nodes” facilitates and intensifies the blurring of distinction between bodily and disembodied experience. Bodies are employed to create disembodied experience, and disembodied experience in turn produces powerful effects on the physical bodies.

It is, however, a curious kind of transgression. In a geographically closed world marked off by border control, virtual exchange of ideas and transnational flows of power profess. Under the transnationalism of Sleep Dealer, Mexico and the U.S are connected through technologies that enhance digital presence, yet their geographical territories remain secluded entities. Indeed, when Rudy wants to talk to Memo face-to-face, he still has to cross the border between two countries. The transgression of digital boundaries brought about by telecommunication allows people to experience different things in different geographical settings, yet this sense of merging digital tele-presence still exist parallel to the separation of physical territories rather than completely removing them.

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