This book is about margins and marginality in the art world as sources for critical engagements in the studio. It builds on the pioneering work of critical theorist and artist Michael Betancourt, who has used glitches as an integral part of his art since the early 1990s. This book presents his thinking about his own work linking theory and practice in a larger context of conceptual and theoretical concerns that are neither a statement of intentions, nor merely a subjective series of claims about past accomplishments. With 21 illustrations in full color, this book discusses his digital glitch movies, typoetry, abstract photography, and the Instaglitch series as direct examples of the connections between theory and practice, illuminating his proposal for “Research Art” as a domain equal to the “Business Art” familiar from exhibitions in the gallery-fair-museum network. Polemical and often challenging, it explores the role of expectations in making and interpreting art from the vantage point of the studio, rather than as a critic or historian, arguing that “Research Art” is the evolution of the critical position developed by Conceptual Art and Situationalism as the avant-garde program in art came to an end, an adaptation to the changed Contemporary reality of AI, globalization, and digital technology—an oppositional art made in the shadows of digital capitalism.
Michael Betancourt is a pioneer of Glitch Art who has made visually seductive digital art that brings the visionary tradition into the present. Dividing his studio time between working with static and moving imagery, his approach to digital misfunction has set the stage for the contemporary mania for glitch art. Since 1990, he has cultivated a diverse practice unified by a consistent concern for the poetic potential of the overlooked and neglected images made by digital computers-the glitched images that are commonly ignored and rejected. By emphasizing their digital origins, his aesthetics encourages the viewer to find poetic meaning in their everyday life. His static imagery primarily displayed on his Instagram account (@glitcharts) links the digital rendering of files to the patterns of wood grain in Japanese woodblock prints of the nineteenth century, reveling in the continuity between contemporary digital abstraction and historical art.