‘Cinema’ as a Modernist Conception of Motion Pictures


  • Michael Betancourt




avant-garde film, postcinema, film ontology, digital cinema


In the 1960s and 1970s the Clement Greenberg’s Modernist ideology of ‘purity’ played a central role in the definition of ‘avant-garde cinema’ as a serious, major genre of film. This transfer between ‘fine art’ and ‘avant-garde film’ was articulated as ‘structural film’ by P. Adams Sitney. This heritage shapes contemporary debates over ‘postcinema’ as digital technology undermines the ontology and dispositive of historical cinema. Its discussion here is not meant to reanimate old debates, but to move past them.


Article received: March 12, 2018; Article accepted: April 10, 2018; Published online: September 15, 2018; Original scholarly paper

How to cite this article: Betancourt, Michael. "‘Cinema’ as a Modernist Conception of Motion Pictures." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 16 (2018): 55−67. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i16.254

Author Biography

Michael Betancourt


Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
United States

Michael Betancourt is an artist, theorist, and historian. His movies have screened internationally at the Black Maria Film Festival, Art Basel Miami Beach, Contemporary Art Ruhr, Athens Video Art Festival, Syros International Film Festival, Festival des Cinemas Differents de Paris, Anthology Film Archives, Millennium Film Workshop, the San Francisco Cinematheque’s Crossroads, and Experiments in Cinema among others. His writing complements his movie making: it has been translated into Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Portuguese, and Spanish – and published in many magazines, including The Atlantic, Make Magazine, Millennium Film Journal, Leonardo, Semiotica, and CTheory. He wrote The ____________ Manifesto, and books such as The Critique of Digital Capitalism, Glitch Art in Theory and Practice, and Beyond Spatial Montage: Windowing.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i16.254 DOI: https://doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i16.254




How to Cite

Betancourt, M. (2018). ‘Cinema’ as a Modernist Conception of Motion Pictures. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (16), 55−67. https://doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i16.254