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the avant-garde movie, motion graphics and theory blog

by Michael Betancourt

This site presents extracts from Michael Betancourt's current research and writing projects, with news about current developments. A portfolio of finished, published writing is available here.

His book, Beyond Spatial Montage: Windowing, or, the Cinematic Displacement of Time, Motion and Space, concerned with the results of a 25-year long studio-based research project will be published by Focal Press.

If you are looking for more on agnotology, digital capitalism or automated/immaterial labor, look at The Digital, which presents links to his most recent published articles and other research on the political economy of digital capitalism contained in his book:

The Critique of Digital Capitalism identifies how digital technology has captured contemporary society in a reification of capitalist priorities. The theory proposed in this book is the description of how digital capitalism as an ideologically “invisible” framework is realized in technology.

More articles and translations into Spanish, Portuguese and Greek are posted on MichaelBetancourt.com


An Immaterial Medium

story ©  | published November 30, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


The particular dimensions of a physical engagement with immateriality in motion pictues depends on the fragmentary nature of the digital medium itself: everything “inside” the computer exists as numerically encoded data: the fragmentation and digital organization of information that when ‘replayed’ for a human audience appears continuous via discrete units (commonly called “samples”) is a given when considering any product of digital technology. These discrete fragments of reality enable the transmission, reproduction, and reassembly that are the common features of any digital technology, and the apparently ‘prefect’ reproduction originated precisely in the actuality that what is encountered through the immaterial production of the digital work is not a copy so much as a new example produced specifically for the moment of encounter; it is an “original.” This reassembly from fragmentary samples may not have been an invention of the late nineteenth century, but it was in this period where sampling, coupled with new developments in photography, introduced the essential foundation for the digital transformation of reality into data that enables the digital to function as a perfect ‘reproduction.’

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Going Somewhere - Animated Title Card

story ©  | published November 28, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

My Movies

This is a the animated title card for my new movie, Going Somewhere:

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Previews of My Glitches

story ©  | published November 26, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


I have an Instagram account with stills from my movies and movie-tests.


Anti-Formalist Glitches

story ©  | published November 26, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


​A potential revealation of the materiality of the digital is thus only one part of what the digital glitch might present: the other part is the utter dependence of all these technologies on the human social realm. The particular form of a digital work when rendered for human viewing/encounter makes the purpose of that particular data stream apparent, whether it is a movie, a piece of music, a text or anything else, the data itself is encoded for human purposes. The automatic nature of the digital device is of a different character than the autonomy of agency. The illusion that our devices function without our input, without responding to our desires and demands is a reflection of their design, and the functions these machines are constructed to achieve—the superficially mysterious, perfect nature of the digitally manufactured, its magical aura, work to obscure the underlying physical reality of the digital and its subservience to human choices and agency. These foundations are all hidden within the aura of the digital, most especially the dependent relationship between the functioning of the digital technology and the demands made by the desires of human society (and provides its formal basis).

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The Limits of Utility

story ©  | published November 7, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

The Digital

CTheory just published my new theory article on automation and the structural attempts of digital capitalism to keep the rate of profit from dropping. The Limits of Utiity develops a critical framework for the importance of utility in the production of value.


Object Lesson: Color Music

story ©  | published November 5, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

Avant-Garde Film

in The Atlantic's Object Lessons series. My article on color organs is out.


The Dogs of Space in 17 Days, vol. 8

story ©  | published September 24, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


My movie, The Dogs of Space will be part of the next series: 17 Days, vol. 8, Day 12. This video series, curated by Adriane Little, screens the work of 17 video artists (one per day) continuously and simultaneously on two 50” plasma screens, one on the first floor and one on the second floor of the Richmond Center for Visual Art in the Atrium Gallery at Western Michigan University.

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Use, Value and ROI

story ©  | published August 20, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

The Digital

The problematics of value implicit in the productive shift from physical manufacture to the immaterial semiosis characteristic of digital production emerges from the historical expression of value as a storing of human labor in the tangible form of commodities. Any discussion of “profit” (surplus value) depends on this pair of integral concepts—labor and use—both of which rarely figure in discussions of digital technology and automation except in absentia: the immaterial production characteristic of High Frequency Trading software, digital automation linked to pervasive monitoring (characterizing the value of “social networks” generally), and the general complex of relationships between production, facture and labor in digital capitalism propose a production of values without the need for human involvement (either via labor or through use) as a ‘solution’ to the falling rate of profit: the trajectory of automation offers the reduction-elimination of the variable costs presented by wages.

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Joshua Gen Solondz's Prisoner's Cinema (2012)

story ©  | published July 26, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

Avant-Garde Film

Bright Lights Film Journal has my article on Johsua Gen Solondz's flicker film Prisoner's Cinema. This article discusses how the duplicity of hallucination/sight and transcendence/imprisonment is essnetial to the meaning in flicker cinema.


The Dogs of Space

story ©  | published July 22, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

My Movies

A short dramatizing the launch of two Soviet space dogs, Belka and Strelka, into orbit. This narrative fuses documentary, scientific, fictional and abstract glitch footage into a composite story.

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