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Movies by Michael Betancourt


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on Glitches, Glitching & Postdigital Aesthetics

I have been working with glitch techniques since the 1990s, first with analogue photography, then with digital imagery:

  • Glitch Art in Theory and Practice:
    Critical Failures and Post-Digital Aesthetics
    Routledge, 2016
    ISBN: 978-1138219540

  • "Critical Glitches and Glitch Art," Hz Journal, no. 19, July 2014 [link]

  • "The Invention of Glitch Video: Digital TV Dinner (1978)"  [preview .pdf]

  • Lardani's Signature: Technical Mastery and Apparent Glitch in Lardani's titles for Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly   [link] or [.pdf]
    Bright Lights Film Journal no. 81, August-September, 2013

  • An Easy 7-Step Protocol for Databending   [link] or  [.pdf]
    Signal Culture Cookbook, ed. Tammy McGovern, 2014
    ISBN: 978-0-9914917-0-4

  • The Kodak Excerpt (detail), Michael Betancourt, 2013

    More articles and translations are posted on


    Naming the Glitch, New Aesthetic & Post-Digital

    story © Michael Betancourt | published July 25, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

    Glitch & Postdigital

    The convergence of immaterial digital processes and the physical world is an increasingly obvious part of everyday experience, and has been steadily getting more attention since the start of the twenty-first century. There is nothing new about this relationship, which has been developing since at least the 1980s, but what is of interest is how these developments have stopped being new and simply become a part of everyday reality, accepted and largely ignored as just an aura of the digital. The variety of terms attempting to name these developments reveals the different approaches and concerns of the people introducing them: as challenge, as celebration, as philosophical shift.

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    Flow and Friction: a thesis on tactical glitching

    story © Michael Betancourt | published July 24, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

    Glitch & Postdigital

    I recently read my copy of Vendela Grundell's book, Flow And Friction: On The Tactical Potential Of Interfacing With Glitch Art and was pleasantly surprised to see my critical framework for considering 'glitch art' being applied to a new area, web design. I would be interested to see her analysis applied to media works as well, rather than just publications, but I can see the importance of art history working with web media. I am glad to see more work being done on the convergence of glitch processes and tactical media.


    'Glitch Art' as a Movement?

    story © Michael Betancourt | published July 10, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

    Glitch & Postdigital

    Recently, I was asked during the Q&A after a talk if I think glitch art is a movement. The problem with calling the amorphous collection of people working with glitch art a movement is precisely its shapelessness: the things being done and called glitch art have been around and in use by artists since the late 1970s and first started to become prominent during the 1990s, emerging more-or-less independently in places as diverse as London, Chicago, Oslo and Miamiall places also associated with the use of glitches in electronic and avant-garde music. This plurality of origins makes any suggestion of a movement highly questionable: there were no manifestos, no proclamations that circulated across all these origin-sites. Instead, the use and embrace of glitches appears to have happened more or less simultaneously, as a result of the faults and failures of digital technology in the 1990s, especially the vagaries and interruptions common to dial-up internet access and the slow speeds of download that would often result in partial and damaged files. The embrace of glitch by this initial collection of artists (whose work from 2003 and earlier was collected in the Glitch: Designing Imperfection book) was highly dispersed geographically and aesthetically, even if they shared formal similarities because of the technologies involved.

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    My History With Glitching

    story © Michael Betancourt | published June 29, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

    Glitch & Postdigital

    This collection of historical notes, written between 2012 and 2017, about working with and on glitches has been floating in the either/or for a while. Since there's mot much history of any kind about glitches before the late '00s, I'm posting this personal narrative. I just realized I haven't done anything with it, so here it is. These are some general historical notes about my own experiences with glitches and their use in my work starting in the 1990s.

    Still from Year (2003)

    I am not sure when I first specifically called this kind of work glitch, but the concept and the work it produced have been continuous features of my work since 1989. I know I was using the term by 2001, and I did a bit of writing with it in 2003 for the Miami Art Exchange when it was the only publication engaged with Miami Art on a regular basis (this was before Art Basel Miami Beach). The deployment of accident (chance) within carefully prescribed frameworks enabled the uncontrolled, chaotic features of glitch art to develop organically from my technical and technological process focused on using the looping methods learnt from video feedback as the protocol for making all my work: iteration, revision, recursion.

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    Glitched Video and/as Found Footage

    story © Michael Betancourt | published March 2, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

    Glitch & Postdigital

    My article "Glitched Media as Found/Transformed Footage: Post-Digitality in Takeshi Muratas Monster Movie" on the relationship between glitched videos and found footage is now available in Found Footage Magazine #3.

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    Article on my Glitch movies

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

    Glitch & Postdigital

    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 Betancourts 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. Betancourts 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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    Glitch Art in Theory and Practice

    story © Michael Betancourt | published May 20, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

    Glitch & Postdigital

    My new book Glitch Art in Theory and Practice: Critical Failures and Post-Digital Aesthetics has been officially announced on the Routledge website! (152 pages | 35 B/W Illus.) Preorder on

    Glitch Art in Theory and Practice: Critical Failures and Post-Internet Art explores the concept of "glitch" alongside contemporary digital political economy to develop a general theory of critical media using glitch as a case study and model, focusing specifically on examples of digital art and aesthetics. While prior literature on glitch practice in visual arts has been divided between historical discussions and social-political analyses, this work provides a rigorous, contemporary theoretical foundation and framework.

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    Defining the Critical Glitch

    story © Michael Betancourt | published December 17, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

    Glitch & Postdigital

    Glitch may be best known from its role in electonic music and digital composition, but it is equallyand more commonlya part of the everyday visual engagement with computers. The technical aspects of digital technologypixellated images that re/compose reality as a juxtaposition of discrete fragmentssuggests a translation of visual space into a virtuality, cyberspace, that instead of being continuous is instead shot through with errors and failures of various types. Transfers between this digital technology and art have been a continuous part of its history, but the prominence of digtial imagery and digitally-derived forms has become an insistent part of contemporary media since the opoular embrace of the Internet in the mid-1990s. These visual forms of glitch, unlike its musical counterparts, have consistently been grouped with a variety of other terms, prominent among these are post-digital, post-internet and the new aesthetic; in academic contexts visual glitch will often simply identified with new media art, or occasionally video art.

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    Glitches and the Aura of Information

    story © Michael Betancourt | published December 15, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

    Glitch & Postdigital

    Compression glitches have become the most common type of glitch encountered, not only in art, but in our everyday uses of technology. These technical failures are usually transitory, a momentary breach in the continuous datastream; we notice that they happen as quickly as we forget they were there: once they have passed, they vanish not only from the screen but from memory.

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    Glitch Procedures in Helios | Divine (2013)

    story © Michael Betancourt | published December 3, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

    Glitch & Postdigital

    The music video produced for Saeed Alis song of the same title, Helios | Divine is 4 minutes long, organized into four sections of approximately equal length. It is designed to act as a posthuman landscape where what we believe we see is not entirely the same as what is actually visible on screen: a complex network of squares and rectangles that twinkle and contain a continually shifting field of colors that combine into larger blocks only to break into smaller, more discrete units. The imagery presented is emergentwhat can be seen when looking at a still image is radically different than the encounter with the moviebut is also composed from uniform squares of color, an effect of the glitching process that stripped recognizable, high definition imagery from the raw footage. This visual development follows the sequence of imagery common to the revelatory experiences described in the 1930s by German psychologist Heinrich Klver. A summary of his imagery describes the progression of Helios | Divine: in a continuously transforming shot (rather than a series of individual, discrete shots), the initial parting of the veil, becomes by degrees a beautiful landscape, then a figure that merges into a large, circular disk with light rays stretching out, followed by a second, darker landscape.

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