Semiotic aspects of Lacan’s notion of the Imaginary order: An inquiry into Spike Jonze’s film Her (2013)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The fact that machines play an increasingly more important role in our daily life is hardly new to anyone. Robots help us with a wide range of things in our daily lives, the smartphone perhaps being the best illustration of this state of affairs. The debate among experts in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is divided: is the rapid development good for humanity, or is it bad (Müller and Bostrom, 2016)? The focus of this article is to further explore the debate of the experts as illustrated in Spike Jonze’s science-fiction film Her (2013) which is telling the story about a man falling in love with his operative system. The analytic approach is semiotic by the way of Lacan’s interpretation of Peirce’s three categories in the development of his notion of the Imaginary order and its links to narcissism. The reason for addressing the problem this way, is the assumption that AI has, and will increasingly have, semiotic psychological implications for humans affecting our ways of communicating and our close relationships, to ourselves as well as to others. In short, the analyses of Her show that the film aligns with the part of the expert groups that believe that AI in a near future will have serious consequences for humans.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
  • Studies on Film


  • Semiotics, Peirce, Lacan, AI, Film
Translated title of the contributionSemiotiska aspekter av Lacans begrepp den imaginära ordningen: En studie av Spike Jonzes film Her (2013)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-121
JournalSouthern Semiotic Review
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec
Publication categoryResearch