CONTENTS

 
   about
   MICHAEL BETANCOURT NEWS
   movies: AESTHETICS
   movies: NEWS & REVIEWS
   movies: SHOWS & SCREENINGS
   random art notes
   random how-tos
   research: AVANT-GARDE MOVIES
   research: MOTION GRAPHICS
   research: VISUAL MUSIC
   theory: CRITICAL OBSERVATIONS
   theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM
   theory: GLITCH & POSTDIGITAL
   theory: working notes

 

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SEARCH ARCHIVES

archives begin in 1996

  
 
avant-garde movies, motion graphics, 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 trilogy of studies on film theory using title sequences as a model uniting avant-garde, documentary and commercial motion pictures were published in the Routledge Studies in Media Theory and Practice series: Semiotics and Title Sequences, Synchronization and Title Sequences, and Title Sequences as Paratexts.

If you are looking for more on agnotology, digital capitalism or automated/immaterial labor, look at The Digital, which presents links to his most recently published articles and other research on the political economy of digital capitalism contained in his book The Critique of Digital Capitalism. This analysis 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.

You can watch his movies here.

More articles, reviews, interviews, and translations are posted on MichaelBetancourt.com


 


GLITCHASEMICS by Marco Giovenale

story © Michael Betancourt | published May 23, 2020 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: GLITCH & POSTDIGITAL

The Post-Asemic Press has released the book GLITCHASEMICS by Marco Giovenale with an introduction by Michael Betancourt!

Asemic writing is a type of disturbed writing / criture that cannot be read since it belongs to a completely unknown language, or a language that one is not capable of deciphering, like a set of glyphs or letters coming out of a long lost enigmatic script which resist any attempt at translation. If you disturb waves of asemic writing, it resembles a loud interrupting noise hitting a regular radio frequency signal, you get a double-coded textor image text(ure)s, which double as chaotic graphic micro-events. In this realm is where the "Glitchasemics dwell, with their shining overexposure to colors and extreme illuminated distortions, which also lead to bits of altered perceptions and flashes of already tangled alphabets. In this book there is no return to previously known languages, codes, or habits (even if they are experimental ones). From this point forward, the reader is left in this crossroad area of art and verbo-visual writing, and will encounter a post-literate path without explanation and/or translation, with its very identity asserting itself into the concept of translation, but remaining as an impossible task applied to impossible objects.






 
E-Book Versions for Online Classes

story © Michael Betancourt | published March 28, 2020 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



MICHAEL BETANCOURT NEWS

One of the problems with teaching going online is the accessibility of textbooks. Here are links to ebook versions of some of my books for anyone who needs them:

The History of Motion Graphics

A Short Guide to Writing About Motion Graphics

Force Magnifier: The Cultural Impacts of Artificial Intelligence

Glitch Art in Theory and Practice: Critical Failures and Post-Digital Aesthetics

Semiotics and Title Sequences: Text-Image Composites in Motion Graphics

Title Sequences as Paratexts: Narrative Anticipation and Recapitulation

Synchronization and Title Sequences: Audio-Visual Semiosis in Motion Graphics

Typography and Motion Graphics: The 'Reading-Image'

Ideologies of the Real in Title Sequences, Motion Graphics and Cinema

Beyond Spatial Montage: Windowing, or the Cinematic Displacement of Time, Motion, and Space

The Critique of Digital Capitalism






 
Force Magnifier

story © Michael Betancourt | published January 20, 2020 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

Now Available! in print and ebook format

What exactly does AI automate?

Betancourt begins with the obvious answer, human labor, and ends with the nature of value created in capitalism. His analysis was written for a lecture at the Aspen InstituteGermany conference Humanity Enabled: AI & the Great Economic Awakening in Berlin on March 25-26, 2020. The great decoupling of labor from productivity and value suggests the potential for a post-labor economy, and the expansion of the society of leisure formerly reserved for only the dominant social classes. This book concerns the social, cultural, and economic barriers to the development of a fairer, egalitarian, and more democratic society in terms of a broad, kaleidoscopic array of tendencies including the gamification of social activity by social credit, the role of marketing in popular media, the authoritarian usurpation of democracy in the smart city, and the proposal of universal basic income as a palliative for the replacement of human labor by machinery. Opposition to the emergence of the society of leisure is not economic but cultural, a confluence of religious and social prohibitions on leisure that simultaneously devalue, demonize, and disenfranchise labor: this emergent conflict is the cultural significance of AI.






 
Order my new book, Ideologies of the Real

story © Michael Betancourt | published September 2, 2019 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



research: MOTION GRAPHICS

My new book Ideologies of the Real in Title Sequences, Motion Graphics and Cinema is now available! This book presents a new theory of cinematic realism appropriate for the digital age.

This book explores the question of realism in motion pictures. Specifically, it explores how understanding the role of realism in the history of title sequences in film can illuminate discussions raised by the advent of digital cinema.

Ideologies of the Real in Title Sequences, Motion Graphics and Cinema fills a critical theoretical void in the existing literature on motion graphics. Developed from careful analysis of Andr Bazin, Stanley Cavell, and Giles Deleuzes approaches to cinematic realism, this analysis uses title sequences to engage the interface between narrative and non-narrative media to consider cinematic realism in depth through highly detailed close readings of the title sequences for Bullitt (1968), Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974), The Number 23 (2007), The Kingdom (2008), Blade Runner: 2049 (2017) and the James Bond films. This analysis develops a modal approach to cinematic realism where ontology is irrelevant to indexicality. His analysis shows the continuity between historical analogue film and contemporary digital motion pictures by developing a framework for rethinking how realism shapes interpretation.




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Book Preview: "Agnotology and Fake News" chapter

story © Michael Betancourt | published August 5, 2019 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

Here is a preview of a chapter from my new book, The Digital Agent versus Human Agency.


Agnotology undermines epistemic procedures creating a specific impact: it affirms and expands a malleable and controlled marketplace (both physical and intellectual) that enables the production-consumption dynamic to collapse into the aura of the digital and the fantasy of equivalence where all potentials are not only allowed, but interchangeable in a logic of substitution and replacement that destroys meaning and significance. A diagnostic understanding of this process is the first stage of challenging and undermining its impacts on political discourse. Agnotology employs a mutually reinforcing cycle of erasures and indeterminacy that undermines all challenges to the established political economy. The paired images in Figure 4.1 demonstrate agnotology: the top image is a screenshot from Fox News broadcast on August 8, 2012 where the numbers being presented are confusing and uninformative; the bottom image is a fake news graphic that circulated online in May 2014 where the direction of the chart is inverted, creating an impression that the numbers shown are declining rather than increasing. Both graphics are examples of agnotology, but in antithetical ways: top creates confusion through fradulent reportage, but bottom produces a more powerful agnotological affect once it has been unmasked as a fake that was never broadcast. Instead of undermining the crdibility of Fox News reportage, this graphic challenges the validity of top by raising the question about whether it was real or fake as well. These impacts give the fantasy of equivalence a specific valence for agnotological processes that become apparent in fake news through their claims that established reportagesuch as the common knowledge that Fox News often broadcasts false and misleading graphicsis equivalent to conspiracy theories and well-documented facts are dismissed as inaccurate. This conflation of fact and non-fact is typical of agnotology, but reaches a particularly dramatic scale with the source of these dismissals: fake news it is a term specifically employed by United States President Donald Trump to attack any information he disagrees with. However, it is not his inventionthe term has been used since the 1890s to identify falsehoods, misinformation, and spurious news. The nature of fake news depends on there is being ambiguity about the demarcation between fake and non-fake news where they cannot always be distinguished. In 2016, the founder of Snopes, David Mikkelson discussed the issue of fake news in relation to the factuality and reliability of news in general, noting that fake news exists as part of a larger set of issues about credibility, veracity, and documentation:




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