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On Digital Capitalism

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

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

  • The Aura of the Digital  [.pdf]

  • The Valorization of the Author  [.pdf]

  • Immaterial Value and Scarcity in Digital Capitalism   [.pdf]

  • Automated Labor: The New Aesthetic and Immaterial Physicality   [.pdf]

  • Bitcoin   [.pdf]

  • The Demands of Agnotology::Surveillance   [.pdf]

  • or download the free ebook, Agnotology and Crisis in Digital Capitalism   [.pdf]

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



    My Moon Landing Movie


    story ©  | July 20, 2014 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

    Since today is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, here is my Moon Landing movie:

    Contact Light is made from 19th and 20th century depictions of the Moon, Georges Méliès’ famous fantasy film from 1902, and the reality of Apollo 11 in 1969. The title comes from Buzz Aldrin saying, “Contact light. A very smooth touchdown.” heard at the end of my movie.

    My Movies

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      Surveillance, Agnotology, Security

    story ©  | July 17, 2014 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

    My article that I started writing in 2007, begun before we had good confirmation of the NSA surveillance programs, could only be finished because of what we now know: The Demands of Agnotology::Surveillance addresses the complex links between surveillance, agnotology, and security:

    Surveillance is the logical antithesis of agnotology: it acts to produce certainty rather than uncertainty. 'Security' provides a far-reaching, nebulous justification for a range of actions, from expansions of surveillance (immaterial production) to war and imperialism (primitive accumulation). The periodic crashes of capitalism are a symptom of the overextension inherent in capitalism itself, however, moments of 'systemic failure' are not indicators that capitalism will implode; instead, what occurs is a retrenching that results in an expansion of capitalist processes into new domains.

    The Digital


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      Critical Glitches and Glitch Art

    story ©  | July 16, 2014 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

    My article discussing glitch art came out on Hz Journal today. It's a discussion of how we identify a glitch as being critical, and what this means for media art makers.



      Analysis of the Titles for Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965)

    story ©  | July 7, 2014 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

    My article discussing the title sequence for Dorish Wishman's 1965 film Bad Girls Go To Hell is out on Bright Lights Film Journal.



      Fireplace movie

    story ©  | June 30, 2014 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

    Just a bit of fun for the fireplace; it's a loop so feel free to set this on repeat.

    My Movies


      'Dreams That Money Can Buy' Book

    story ©  | May 1, 2014 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

    Hans Richter's 1947 film Dreams That Money Can Buy (available for download here) was accompanied by a 24 page soft cover book with a collage on the cover by Max Ernst, and illustrated throughout with photographs from the color film. This book is relatively expensive to own, but is a very valuable source of information on the film, including materials on/by all of Richter's collaborators.

    download a pdf here



      Pablo Ferro's Title Sequence for Bullitt (1968)

    story ©  | April 30, 2014 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

    My article on the titles to Bullitt is now out on Bright Lights Film Journal.



      The Security Apparatus

    story ©  | April 24, 2014 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

    Linkages between agnotology, hyperreality, and surveillance converge in the security apparatus: a paradigm of observation and control whose function is both immaterially productive (it enables the autonomous semiotic generation of value) and restrictive (it enables the mobilization of physical/immaterial force to defend this immaterial production). These productive-restrictive activities are distinct, yet mutually reinforcing—they form a dynamic cycle masked by the aura of the digital’s stripping of physicality from conscious consideration. Without this distanciation of the physical, the productive-restrictive cycles would become apparent through their necessarily disenfranchising actions as human agency is usurped by automated processes and autonomous oversight. The security apparatus appears as an impartial, disinterested alternative to the variable contingency of human agency: its uniformly applied mechanical responses create an illusion of objectivity. This mechanical response is a crystalized ideology, an inflexible restriction iterated by the all-or-nothing logic of digital protocols that are incapable of ambiguity, plurality or contingency apparent in the “right to read” implemented as Digital Rights Management (DRM)—either you have authorization or you do not. This authorization implicitly demands a continuous monitoring and maintenance where its authoritarian machinic surveillance, whether as immaterial production or socio-political control, serves to reify the security apparatus in the implementation of digital technology itself. DRM is the most visible prominence of this implicit, ubiquetous system that directly impacts the human readable form of digital objects, but this most apparent example is precisely an isolated surfacing of larger, dominant systems for control and observation that lie within the ‘database’ that enables immaterial production.

    The Digital


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      Films from the Attic, Richmond, VA - March 20

    story ©  | March 17, 2014 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

    Studio Two Three Film & Video Series: Films from the Attic on March 20th, 7:30pm will be screening my movie Remixed Message.



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      Shortcutz Berlin - March 5

    story ©  | March 2, 2014 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

    My movie The Kodak Moment will screen in a show of Highlights from DLX.

    The show takes place this Wednesday, March 5th

    Shortcutz Berlin
    Lagari, Pfluegerstr 19/corner Nansenstr.
    Next to U8-Schoenleinstr!



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