Day 12 > Michael Betancourt

The Dogs of Space – TRT 3:00 mins

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 imagery’s 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 take—datastream 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.

Michael Betancourt is an artist, historian, theorist, and curator. He is the author of The ____________ Manifesto, and has exhibited internationally since 1993. His writing has been translated into Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Portuguese, and Spanish. His book, The History of Motion Graphics: From Avant-Garde to Industry in the United States was published in 2013. His work with critical theory, published in The Critique of Digital Capitalism by Punctum Books in 2015, identifies how digital technology has captured contemporary society in a reification of capitalist priorities. Beyond Spatial Montage: Windowing, or, the Cinematic Displacement of Time, Motion, and Space, concerned with juxtaposed and composited screen imagery will be published by Focal Press in 2016.

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