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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 and AI, 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 books The Critique of Digital Capitalism and Force Magnifier. This analysis identifies how digital technology has captured contemporary society in a reification of capitalist priorities that includes the shift to automation and AI. 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


Illustrator Glitch Experiments

story © Michael Betancourt | published March 15, 2021 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


Here are several experiments with generating glitches using software that isn't normally engaged for glitching, Adobe Illustrator:

E-Book Versions for Online Classes

story © Michael Betancourt | published December 29, 2020 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


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

New! The Book of Dissolution

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


This work of visual poetry is composed from forty-two carefully curated compositions produced between 1998 and 2020. Dissolution means the decomposition into fragments or parts, a disintegration that returns the established order to its component elementsbut this breaking up does not mean an end to order, merely the conversion from one state to another, more dynamic one. These images are a meditation on this process of ordering and transformation. These images are a meditation on this process of ordering and transformation, a sequence of images, like an animation without the in-between frames.

Humanity Enabled: AI & the Great Economic Accelleration

story © Michael Betancourt | published December 7, 2020 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


I will be giving a talk at the Aspen Institute-Germany conference "Humanity Enabled: AI & the Great Economic Accelleration" on December 8 on the structural barriers to the emergence of the 'society of leisure.' These are not economic but cultural, a confluence of religious and social prohibitions on leisure that simultaneously devalue, demonize, and disenfranchise labor.

The presentation slides can be downloaded here

Conspiracy Theories are 'Animistic Fallacies'

story © Michael Betancourt | published September 10, 2020 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print

theory: working notes

A vast, evil conspiracy is comforting. The paranoid belief in the capacity of authority to maintain itself and secretly dominate events provides an explanationhidden power acting without oversightthat is easy to understand.

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