Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a trip to visit Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the CEO of a searching engine company called Bluebook. Caleb’s task in Nathan’s isolated but high-technological building is to give a Turing Test to a newly-invented artificial intelligence Ava (Alicia Vikander). The human-like and super intelligent Ava and Caleb soon attracts to one another. It finally turns out that Ava’s seduction and attachment to Caleb are only her manipulation of him, in order to escape from the house, a goal that Nathan programs to her. Whilst she manages to get Caleb’s help, the following things are out of Nathan’s control. With the assistance of another artificial intelligence Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno), Ava, manages to kill Nathan and leaves the cage-like house. However, she embraces this autonomy by herself, while locking Caleb in the remote building, permanently.
Ava is an AI with high level self-awareness with drawing as a major clue. Here,I would like to refer an intertexuality used in the film. In Nathan’s living room, a painting created by Jackson Pollock, an artist of abstract expressionism, a drip painter, is attached on the wall. In art, “Abstract Expressionism is concerned with the subconscious or unconscious mind” (Hobbs, 1985, p299), which refers to the “energy of soul” manifested in visual creativity (O’Connor, 1988, p222). As Nathan describes, his working process is that “he let his mind go blank, and his hand go where it wanted. Not deliberate, not random. Someplace in between. They called it automatic art.” This sort of painting therefore highlights the artist’s discovery of the sub-consciousness, as a way of digging out the inner-self, which is a crucial feature in the establishment of self-awareness. In Ava, we can also see the adoption of drawing, which, according to her, is one of her favorite things to do. The first drawing she shows to Caleb is abstract and constructed with different lines, very abstract. When talking about it, she says “I do drawings everyday, but I never know what they are of.” After that, she wants Caleb to explain the meaning of her drawing. This process of visualising and acknowledging the inner thoughts, as a representation of self-discovery, contributes to her self-awareness.
The climax of this film appears when Ava and Kyoko unit together to kill Nathan, which overthrows humans’ domination successfully. During their intensive fight, Nathan breaks Ava’s left arm and beats Kyoko to death, a representation of domestic violence, meanwhile, he is also stabbed severely and uses his life to pay for his arrogance. Then, Ava enters Nathan’s bedroom, passing by a painting on his wall. It is called Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein, a famous portrait by Gustav Klimt (1882) who painted for the bride Margaret in her wedding night. Displaying this painting beside the closets hiding previous feminized AIs indicates that Nathan considers these thinking robots as his brides and they are disposable and free to be destroyed, which discloses his sexual domination over the thinking machines.
However, he is finally defeated by his invention. By killing the god-like figure, Ava now replaces Nathan and becomes the new god. She opens up the closets and looks at those artificial intelligence, starting repairing her mechanical body. Tearing down her own broken arm, she replaces it with one from a feminized AI; the fluent movement indicates her familiarity on her body structure. Looking at this complete arm, she slowly closes her eyes with a slight smile, which represents how much she enjoys her freedom. She then peels the synthetic flesh from the previous AI and places it on her own body, little by little, while the locus of the view switches to the house—the dark guest room, the gloomy living room, the painting of Jackson Pollock and Nathan’s lifeless body. Then, it comes back to Ava again and she is already with full skin and silky hair.
This juxtaposition highlights Ava’s championship during her power game with humans. However, the film overly celebrates her freedom, and accompanies this sequence with “uplifting inspirational music” when her transformation, her super intelligence and her completely human-like body further make her indistinguishable from real human beings (Alleva, 2015, p24).