Jordan Belson 

(1926-2011) was an American artist and filmmaker who created abstract films richly woven with cosmological imagery, exploring consciousness, transcendence, and the nature of light itself.

Born in Chicago in 1926, Belson studied painting at the California School of Fine Art (now San Francisco Art Institute), and received his B.A., Fine Arts (1946) from The University of California, Berkeley. He saw films by Oskar Fischinger, Norman McLaren and Hans Richter at the historic Art in Cinema screening series in San Francisco in the late 1940s, and later, films by John [Whitney, Sr.] and James Whitney. Belson was inspired to make films with scroll paintings and traditional animation techniques, calling his first films cinematic paintings.
Curator Hilla Rebay at The Museum of Non-Objective Painting exhibited his paintings, and upon Fischinger's recommendation awarded Belson several grants. From 1957-1959, Belson was Visual Director for The Vortex Concerts at San Francisco's Morrison Planetarium, a series of electronic music concerts accompanied by visual projections. Composer Henry Jacobs curated the music while Belson created visual illusions with multiple projection devices, combining planetarium effects with patterns and abstract film footage. His Vortex work inspired his abandoning traditional animation methods to work with projected light. He completed Allures (1961), Re-entry (1964), Phenomena (1965), Samadhi (1967), and continued with a series of abstract films. His varied influences include yoga, Eastern philosophies and mysticism, astronomy, Romantic classical music, alchemy, Jung, non-objective art, mandalas and many more.
Belson has produced an extraordinary body of over 30 abstract films, sometimes called cosmic cinema, also considered to be Visual Music. He produced ethereal special effects for the film The Right Stuff (1983), and continues making fine art and films today, completing Epilogue in 2005.
("Jordan Belson – Biography" by Cindy Keefer, 2008, published in "The Third Mind; American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989". Alexandra Monroe, Ed. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2009. Exhibition catalog. Published version contains edits made by Guggenheim. © Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum)

Source: Center for Visual Music

Part avant-garde animator, part optical alchemist, part mystic, part psychologist of perception, Mr. Belson made more than 30 short films between the late 1940s and 2005, all of which defy ready classification.
Wordless, they employ moving, abstract images of mercurial fluidity painstakingly choreographed to music. As they slowly change size, form, color and direction, the images rivet the eye.
Mr. Belson’s work, which has been shown at the Tate Modern in London, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and other major museums, was often called nonobjective cinema, a term used to describe movies that dispense with representation and immerse the viewer in a meditative world of pure unspooling form.
His films have also been called painterly and — with their present-at-the-creation intimations of organic and molecular forms, solar flares and shifting planetary bodies — cosmological. Both words are apt: Mr. Belson was trained as a painter and early in his career designed planetarium light shows.
He was, at bottom, an illuminator, relentlessly exploring viewers’ perception of the play of light on the screen. His films have a haunting, evanescent beauty: seeing them is like watching patterns formed by floating watercolors or clouds of ink.
("Jordan Belson, Experimental Filmmaker, Dies at 85" by Margalit Fox. Published: September 10, 2011)

Source: The New York Times

Jordan Belson, 2nd generation, mystic


Art in Cinema – Documents Toward a History of the Film Society (2006) by Scott MacDonald provides extensive and fascinating documentation of one of the most important film societies in American history. Art in Cinema presents complete programs presented by the legendary society; dozens of previously unavailable letters between Stauffacher, his collaborators, and filmmakers including Maya Deren, Hans Richter, Vincent Minelli, and Man Ray; a reprint of the society's original catalog, which features essays by Henry Miller and others; and a wide range of other remarkable historical documents. (Temple University Press)

Film as Film: Formal Experiment in Film 1910-1975 (1979) is a catalogue of an exhibition held at the Hayward Gallery in London from 3 May until 17 June 1979 on rare, essential and controversial avant-garde film history.



Audio.Visual - On Visual Music and Related Media (2009) by Cornelia Lund and Holger Lund (Eds.) is divided into two sections: the first deals with the academic discussion on the subject of visual music; the second introduces contemporary paradigms of audio-visual praxis in brief presentations and contextualises them. Apart from being a guide in the historical sense, this new volume provides theoretical approaches to understanding and making visual music. (Fluctuating Images)

Larry Cuba (1950) is widely recognized as a pioneer in the use of computers in animation art. Producing his first computer animation in 1974, Cuba was at the forefront of the computer-animation artists considered the second generation – those who directly followed the visionaries of the sixties: John Whitney, Sr., Stan Vanderbeek and Lillian Schwartz. (Sonic Acts Festival)

Expanded Cinema (1970) - In a brilliant and far-ranging study, Gene Youngblood traces the evolution of cinematic language to the end of fiction, drama, and realism. New technological extensions of the medium have become necessary. Thus he concentrates on the advanced image-making technologies of computer films, television experiments, laser movies, and multiple-projection environments. Outstanding works in each field are analyzed in detail. Methods of production are meticulously described, including interviews with artists and technologists. (John Coulthart)

Telefante is formed by Luis Negrón van Grieken and Juan Carlos Orozco Velásquez. They put all kinds of media, new, old, forgotten, obsolete, overused, commercial, useless, all over the table, as if we were making a transversal cut through history. Simply it is about tell stories (new and old) through several media (new and old), with the aim to forget this unproductive dialectic and be able to capture the most difficult: the present. (Telefante)

Storm de Hirsch was a very important player in the New York Avant-Garde film scene of the 1960s, though her biography and work are generally left out of the history. Despite lack of recognition, she was very present in the underground film movement and socialized with every big name on the scene, filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Shirley Clarke and others. (Wikipedia)