Jordan Belson’s 5 Essential Films, from the Center for Visual Music

I am working on a project that visualizes music utilizing the abstraction of movements in nature combined with performance. By isolating the shapes and colors of the objects and their movements, I focus less on the object itself and more on the combination of colors and how their shapes and movement match up with sound. I am going to project this video into a geodesic dome [THANK YOU BUCKY <3] and the installation will be an atmosphere where you can stay inside and meditate or hang out for as long as you like while the video loops.


In the meantime, my fantastic mentor and advisor Suzie has lent me her copy of Jordan Belson’s 5 Essential Films. These films are gorgeous. I am sad I had not known about him sooner. When I clicked on his Wikipedia page and found out he had passed away just months ago, my heart dropped. His films are very powerful. I recommend you watch them for yourself. You will fall into a smooth, geometric and fluid dream; a meditation. 

Allures (1961), Samadhi (1967), Light (1973), Fountain of Dreams (1984), and Epilogue(2005)

I put the DVD into my player, and the case said (2007) so I thought it was some contemporary music visualizations. I was confused why it looked like it was from the 60s… until I learned that 2007 was the year this compilation was released, and indeed Belson had been working in the realms of visual music for many years, long before my contemporary influences.

The collection begins with Allures. An intricately geometric piece that employs symmetry and the movement of small shapes in synchronously to create coherent moving images across varying planes. In these two beautiful images, he has taken bright moving dots and lines to create a holistic piece. Starting with Allures made me very happy. When I see sound and music, it is almost always brightly illuminated patterns, colors, and shapes dancing and vibrating over a black background. Certain colors often come up. Ochres and umbers are frequent. Red, maroon, burgundy, ruby, garnet, brick. Everyone must see sound differently, but it does not bother me to watch someone else’s depiction.

His work is very meditative, which is immediately apparent to the viewer. It seems that Belson and I are on the same page with our work. My goal of bringing the senses together is to elicit a state of meditation, where forces, senses, and all isms combine into a synchronous existence. With my video art, this is the tying of painting and sound. How can I show you the way music makes my body feel, or how the feelings and vibrations transfer to the sight and vision of my mind’s eye. The feelings, sights, and sounds overcome you. They take your body and bring it through a wave until it all melts together so you can no longer distinguish. You are removed from the exterior and existing on an interior plane. This is a meditation.

In Samadhi (which refers to a deep state of meditation), Belson employs moving image with the focus of a circle. This circle  is like a ring of fire. It continues to revolve the entire time. In kabbalism and in general, one method of meditation is to stare at the flame of a fire. In many cultures the use of fire is central to the trance, or the celebration. Spending long nights staring into a deep fire brings you out of body. The ring of fire continues to revolve and shape into subtle circular motifs. It appears like an eye. It belongs to every animal and every being. This is all of our eyes and we are all connected by our vision. Meditation is about the interconnectedness of all things. The eye moves into a lens from a camera which brings up purpose and intent. What are we choosing to look at? What do we focus on? Are we looking at things through a lens, and not realizing what else may be there that is not immediately before the lens? Belson brings imagery of space, like the moon, other planets, and oceans to the revolving center. Everything becomes connected, because they all exist and rotate within the same central sphere.

Belson combines nature with imagination in nondescript landscapes and planes. It is very inspirational, as I make work that exists in surreal landscapes, beyond the normal planar boundaries. I am working to blend the movements of recorded nature with the movements of color and shape in the video and installation. Check back in the next few months to learn about the progress of the project.

Thank you, Jordan.


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