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the avant-garde movie and theory

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 my inks to my most recent published articles and other research on the political economy of digital capitalism contained in my 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



The Dogs of Space in 17 Days, vol. 8


story ©  | September 24, 2015 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   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 ©  | August 20, 2015 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

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.

The Digital


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

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

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.



  Altered States, Coastal Currents 2015

story ©  | July 20, 2015 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

Altered Statesis an immersive multi-screen show of the latest experimental film and video work curated by the Hastings-based filmmakers Toby Tatum and Mark French. Altered States features moving image by over seventy of the most fascinating international moving image practitioners working today, much of it unseen in the UK.

This exhibition includes the fruits of a worldwide search for works that articulate film's power to initiate heightened states of consciousness, transporting us across the threshold into a mind-expanding visionary state. The programme features a selection of cutting edge films that imaginatively reshape the base materials of the everyday world into something rich and strange..



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  Unseen Zinema 3 Program June 19

story ©  | June 13, 2015 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

Unseen Zinema 3 llega a su fin y qué mejor manera de celebrarlo que con una fiesta por todo lo alto. El año que viene volveremos, pero antes queremos divertirnos como nos merecemos, con cine y música.



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  Notes on Glitch

story ©  | June 11, 2015 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

Here is a scan of some notes on Glitch [pdf] from 2009 that might be of interest.



  On Cultural Authority

story ©  | April 14, 2015 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

“Cultural authority” seems a nebulous concept. At the same time it is easily understood—we recognize it immediately when reading the program for any festival, screening, exhibition—even though the force it exerts remains hidden within the curatorial choices on display—as the specific form these choices present.



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  The "Cat Organ," Sampling, and the Digital

story ©  | April 12, 2015 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

This article is a revision of my article from Vague Terrain published several years ago.

The technical capabilities of computer technology obscure the nexus of capital, human agency, social reproduction, and physical production; thus, the denial of physicality that is specific to the aura of the digital, and apparent in the evolution from hand-labor to the automation characteristic of ‘digital capitalism,’ is inherent in how this technology has been deployed. The nineteenth century “protestant work ethic” is the conceptual starting point for this development, merging the ‘ideology of autonomous achievement’ with digital technology to create a new ‘ideology of automation.’

The Digital


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  Un-Dependently Yours - The Experiments in Cinema 2015 Yearbook

story ©  | April 11, 2015 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

The 10th Anniversay book from the Experiments in Cinema festival Un-Dependently Yours: Imagining a World Beyond the Red Carpet is out.



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  A Short Guide to Writing About Motion Graphics

story ©  | April 9, 2015 | permalink | Google TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon MySpace   Print

My new book that explains the basics of what research is for and how to use it when writing critical examinations of motion pictures that do not tell stories. Explained using clear examples taken from published writing, this book shows how to approach a writing assignment from beginning to completion, covering such topics as "The Purpose of Research," "How to Create and Use a Close Reading," "The Relationship Between Writing and Revision," and "Common Problems and Their Solutions." This book is an essential guide for any student writing about motion graphics. The process it presents has one simple goal: writing clearly for publication.

A Short Guide to Writing About Motion Graphics, by Michael Betancourt, $19.95



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