Script-Diagram for Prima Materia
By Michael Betancourt
My movie Prima Materia (2005) is based on a visualization of the alchemical process of distillation. All aspects of the visual materials, their progression and their relationship to each other result from the script-diagram. Because alchemy is dialectal — the combination of oppositions — and at the same time mapped to a number of other phenomena such as the seasonal cycle, the appropriate way to understand this diagram is not as a circle, but as a moebius strip that is read in sequence: spring-summer-autumn-winter. The set of oppositions and this sequence function as the organization of the finished work: each element is introduced, they are combined as oppositions, then those opposition-pairs are combined again.
This diagram was essential in the production of the movie. It identifies the various elements to be used, their color, their motion, and their combination in the subsequent sections.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Betancourt is an artist, media historian, critical theorist, and curator. His essays have been translated into Chinese, Italian, Greek, Persian, Portuguese, and Spanish; he has exhibited his movies, site-specific installations, and non-traditional art forms in unseen, unusual, or public spaces since 1992. The second edition of his book, Structuring Time, came out in 2009; he teaches motion graphics and media theory at the Savannah College of Art & Design. He primarily makes abstract, geometric movies.