John Sharples
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‘Everything was black’
Locating monstrosity in representations of the Automaton Chess-Player
in A cultural history of chess-players
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One can raise the initial thought that the Automaton Chess-Player, in popular culture, occupies landscapes of past, present, and future. The original Automaton Chess-Player was a wooden box concealing a full-size human, placed in front of a Turkish-looking human figure able to move chess pieces with its wooden hand. The Automaton Chess-Player embodies a whole host of monstrous qualities, hierarchies, and classifications, each at a distance from the normative spectator. The intellectual distance between the Automaton Chess-Player machine and Stuart Dryden causes discomfort. In Robert Löhr's tale, the human gaze defines and controls the threat of the machine. By the denouement, it is Dryden who has become the emotionless, unsocial, maniacal individual, remorseless after committing murder and, drenched by the rain, appearing to the crow as vaguely comic.

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A cultural history of chess-players

Minds, machines, and monsters


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