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

 

SOCIAL

 
Instagram
 
LinkedIn Profile
 
The Visual Music Village


PORTFOLIO

 
Movies by Michael Betancourt

 michaelbetancourt.com
 Going Somewhere
 exhibitions [pdf]
 updates
 books
 contact

 




 

SEARCH ARCHIVES

archives begin in 1996

  

Autonomous Tools (a fragment)

story © Michael Betancourt | published June 22, 2013 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

While the "Luddite Fallacy" clearly applies to some kinds of mechanization--the implementation of machine tools and automated processes which amplify and create efficienciesthe creation of autonomous tools raises fundamental questions about the assumption that new technological innovations that eliminate human labor necessarily simply shift it to other sites within the economy. This assumed validity for the Luddite Fallacy remains true if and only if the invention of autonomous tools do not function in a fashion similar to slaverythat the robot (a word derived from the title of Karel Čapeks 1920 play which means in Czech serf labor")does not displace or entirely replace human labor because it is a conscious agent capable of performing the same essential rolethe intellectual component of facturecurrently held exclusively by human labor. This agency is the difference between an automated process and an autonomous one: the automated process requires the oversight provided by human agency, an autonomous one, by definition, does not (autonomy means there is no required oversight).






 
Bitcoin and the Political Economy

story © Michael Betancourt | published June 18, 2013 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

My analysis of Bitcoin has been published on CTheory.

What is apparent in Bitcoin is a dramatic reification of capitalist ideologies and valorization of commercial exchanges as the currency itself (new Bitcoins are mined through the exchange of existing Bitcoins) in a direct expression of the capitalist imperative to expand into new domains: the valorization of social activities -- such as friendship circles, browsing in a bookstore, or shopping without purchasing -- becomes valuable as the "authorship" already present in social media is taken to its logical conclusion as the Bitcoin.






 
Agnotology and the 'Free Market'

story © Michael Betancourt | published May 10, 2013 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

Capitalism itself is reified in the idealized free market as the necessary (and natural) order of the world in the conception of market competition as a variant of Darwinian natural selection (evolution); agnotology is the creation of uncertainty and ambivalent fact; it is a competitive tool incompatible with the idealized free market of capitalism.




read more



 
Immaterial Physicality and Marx

story © Michael Betancourt | published February 6, 2013 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

My new article "Automated Labor: The New Aesthetic and Immaterial Physicality" is now in print on CTheory.

This essay considers Karl Marx' short essay The Fragment on Machines and its relationship to digital automation. The new aesthetic described by James Bridle is a typical example of this new, automated labor beginning to impact the physical world and provides a reference point for the examination of The Fragment on Machines: Marx divided labor into three categories (means, material and living labor) that is in the process of being reorganized by digital automated systems (in both immaterial labor and physical production forms). This reorganization forces an underlying paradox in capitalism into focus, foregrounding the mismatch between a capitalist productive system and the consumer society required to maintain that system, a paradox that emerges precisely because exchange value emerges from the relationship between one commodity and anotherfrom the exchange of a commodity for the acquisition of another: human labor is the underlying commodity required by this entire system, a commodity rendered obsolete by digital automation; the new aesthetic provides physical examples of this transition-in-progress.






 
Automation in Evidence on The 'New Aesthetic'

story © Michael Betancourt | published September 3, 2012 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

This is a fragment of my new essay considering the automation and automated processes so clearly on view in the collected material of the new aesthetic, James Bridle's tumblr blog. Originally I hadn't planned to write about his project, but I recently reconsidered that plan as I realized there was overlap with my current thinking about automation:




read more