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Movies by Michael Betancourt
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archives begin in 1996

The Dogs of Space

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

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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.

The Dogs of Space is an exploration of glitch and realism where the two are held in tension against each other: a balance between the abstracting and representing functions of digital imaging. This trajectory between realism and the geometric, formal dimensions of digitally encoded motion transforms the familiar imagery of dogs, rocket ships, zeppelins and workers into a fluid, continuous series of transformations that shift between a surface flatness of pixels and their organization into particular, recognizable imagery.

This engagement is distinctly semiotic: recognizable imagery as signifier (earlier, quoted work) in an arrangement and context that changes the meaning of concepts such as Heavens and Earth that provide a visionary subtext to scientific exploration. The immanent identification provided by archival material is essential. By using nineteenth century imagery, scientific footage, and public domain footage, these explicit quotations enable a synthesis, drawing attention to my reuse. Glitching functions syntactically in this fusion, linking shot-quotations while at the same time providing inflection that changes the imagerys meaning separately from issues of montage or sequence.

The continuous flow of imagery is precisely the point to this process: there is only a limited distinction between one shot and the next, eschewing montage for the continuity of the long takedatastream of the digital file. The results are neither edited nor animated, but the hybrid recognizable as the morph where one image becomes the next seamlessly by degrees of change over time. These technically-generated transformations give rise to both the abstracting and representing dimensions of the imagery equally.


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