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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


 



The Paradox of Agency - New Article!

story ©  | published December 5, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



The Digital

CTheory has posted my new article, "The Paradox of Agency," that describes the new alienation we all live within: created by automation, this alienation masquerades as a liberating force enabling fluid forms of identity/action/being in the digital society, but if and only if we accept the limited range of constraints generated by the digital system’s builders. A new, contemporary alienation originates from within this affective surplus of agency created by digital systems. Any action or behavior not contained by this structural preconception is designated as “invalid”—rendered impossible through a technology that transforms the social restrictions into instrumentalities that cannot be questioned. The limits of this “freedom” are immediately apparent in the situation of “gig” workers (such as on-demand labor) whose work is managed by autonomous systems. The separation of action from result by the aura of the digital reveals this alienation in the paradoxical dispersal of efficacy and immediacy of control.






 

Agnotology wins (as always)

story ©  | published November 9, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



The Digital

The problem posed by a dominant regime of agnotology is that it makes challenges to established patterns of thought difficult if not impossible: the affect of agnotology, perversely, is a reinforcement of certainty since it undermines alternatives that could challenge those ideas; thus, it leads to an unwillingness to compromise, and an inflexibility of thought—both essential features of how digital capitalism is an ideological construction capable of governing what would otherwise appear as incompatible, mutually exclusive groups.






 

Generative Color and Time Displacement

story ©  | published September 7, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Avant-Garde Film

OtherZine 31 is running my discussion of using digital tools to create a movie with the same kind of RGB-based generative color used by Len Lye in Rainbow Dance .






 

The New Alienation of Digital Capitalism

story ©  | published August 19, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



The Digital

Historically, alienation has been understood as a disassociation of an individual from their agency. It is a well-theorized result of industrial production and the assembly-line in particular, but is common to historical capitalism generally. In digital capitalism, a new type of alienation has arisen not based in disassociations of agency. This contemporary alienation originated with an apparent surplussage of agency created by digital systems. The new alienation resides not in a loss of agency, but in the insignificance of that agency. The aura of the digital’s separation of action from result reveals a this alienation in the paradoxical dispersal of efficacy and immediacy of control. Introducing a seemingly unbounded “agency,” it creates an alienation utterly distinct from that of historical capitalism. This changed alienation masquerades as fantasies of empowerment and autonomy associated with digital technologies.




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Antag|Protag screening in Chaos and Order, August 26 @ 8PM

story ©  | published August 16, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Aesthetics

The iotaCenter is showing my movie Antag|Protag at Artists Television Access in San Francisco as part of Chaos and Order.

Witness a collection of visual music from across time and from around the world that represent the spectrum of rationality. Order on the one side and chaos on the other. Are really polar opposites? Is there order in total chaos or chaos in highly organized forms? Tell them your thoughts in this night of films and discussion.




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Article on my Glitch movies

story ©  | published July 16, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Glitch

José Manuel García Perera, painting professor at Universidad de Sevilla, wrote an interesting article on my glitch work that was published earlier this year.

Abstract: In recent times, artistic creation has come closer to the media image proposed by Internet, thus seriously altering an aesthetic experience based before on movement of the viewer around the work and now defined by screens that induce passivity. Michael Betancourt’s video work, part of the so-called glitch art, which focuses on the failure that can occur within the digital realm, has been here the basis for a comparative study between different concepts of movement in art, as well as between a current and a past art, a comparison that allows us to see clearly how technological advances have produced radical changes in the physical, spatial and mobile nature of the artwork. Betancourt’s investigation proposes a new kinetic art that becomes critical through error, mimics the real-time movement that contemporary culture demands, and uncovers the artificiality of images that mimic reality as if they wanted to replace it.

The full article is available as a pdf online: "El movimiento como simulacro en el mundo virtual: Michael Betancourt y el arte de la inmediatez" published in Espacio, Tiempo y Forma, Serie VII - Historia del Arte no. 4, 2016, pp. 143-158.




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Michael Morris' Expanded Cinema and Post-Digital Aesthetics

story ©  | published July 6, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Visual Music

Film International published my article about Michael Morris' contemporary expanded cinema performances with film, video and digital technologies. The interpreted nature of the digital sound/image presented through the language of visual music is central to these works.

Michael Morris, Second Hermeneutic (2013)




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Traditional Conceptions of Title Sequences

story ©  | published July 1, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Motion Graphics

The title sequence has been a common element in the presentation of motion pictures throughout their history in the United States. The organization of title sequences has varied greatly in complexity, duration and distinguishability from the central drama over the more than 125 years of motion picture production in the United States; the earliest examples were produced by Edison's Black Maria studio in the 1890s. These title sequences were minimal, a simple title card that served as a unique identifier for purposes of copyright registry; however, with the shift to dramatic, feature length narratives the need for text on screen became increasingly necessary to present dialogue and other narrative information.




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The Calligram and the Title Card

story ©  | published June 29, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Motion Graphics

The design of motion picture title sequences in 1930s Hollywood employs one of two approaches: (1) the figure-ground, where superimposed text where the background is independent of the typography, (2) the calligram, where the integration of the type and background imagery to produce a single, composite effect. The title design for the 1936 film The Big Broadcast of 1937 enables a consideration of how these two approaches intersect with the structure and role of the title sequence in relation to the main narrative that follows, and the interpretative modes employed in deciphering this exemplary title sequence.

"The Calligram and the Title Card" was published in Semiotica: Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, Volume 2015, Issue 204, Pages 239-252
ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998




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Contact Light in Syros International Film Festival 2016

story ©  | published June 25, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Shows

The "Ταξίδι στο φεγγάρι" ("Journey to the Moon") program will include my movie Contact Light. The 4th Syros International Film Festival runs July 28-August 1 on the Greek island of Syros in the Aegean.




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