Jordan Belson (1926- )

Transmutation (1947) c. 3 minutes, lost

Improvisation #1 (1948) c. 3 minutes, lost

Bop-Scotch (1952) 3 minutes

Mambo (1952) 4 minutes

Caravan (1952) 3 1/2 minutes

Mandala (1953) 3 minutes

Raga (1958) 7 minutes

Sèance (1959) 4 minutes

Allures (1961) 9 minutes

LSD (1962) 6 minutes; color

Re-entry (1964) 6 minutes; color; sound

Phenomena (1965) 16 minutes

Samadhi (1967) 6 minutes

Momentum (1968) 7 minutes

Cosmos (1969) 7 minutes

World (1970) 7 minutes

Meditation (1971) 8 minutes

Chakra ( 1972) 8 minutes

Light (1973) 8 minutes

Cycles (co-made with Stephen Beck) (1975) 10 minutes

Music of the Spheres (1977) 10 minutes

Infinity. (1979) 8 minutes

Pisces/Blues (part of Synchronicity Suite) (1980) 12 minutes

Apolloís Lyre (part of Synchronicity Suite) (1980) 12 minutes

Seapeace (part of Synchronicity Suite) (1980) 11 minutes

Eleusis/Crotons (part of Synchronicity Suite) (1980) 10 minutes

The Astronaut’s Dream (1981) 7 minutes

Moonlight (1981) 6 minutes

Fireflies (1981) 6 minutes

Apollo (1982) 10 minutes

Imagery made for The Right Stuff (1983,

directed by Philip Kaufman), (1982-83)

35mm; c. 120 minutes

Quartet (1983) 16mm; 11 minutes

Fountain of Dreams (1984) 16mm; 12 minutes

Northern Lights (1985) 16mm; 7 minutes

Thoughtforms (1987) 16mm; 10 minutes

Samadhi and Other Films (1989) Video; 22 minutes

Mysterious Journey (1998) Video; 20 minutes

My films are more like looking at a painting than looking at a Cinemascope screen. That my origins are in painting has brought a painting consciousness to filmmaking, and that’s a different kind of picture than long-shots and panoramic views and things like that. One looks at a painting and doesn’t question the focus. If the artist chooses to be soft, heavily textured, smeary, or whatever, it’s accepted, not held up against a standard of whether it’s in focus and how much detail shows.

You have to realize the camera lies. And the fact that the photographic image is accepted as a close facsimile of reality is not so much the propaganda from Eastman Kodak as the logical culmination of the perceptual history of our civilization. Maybe it’s unfortunate that film somehow got in the grip of narrow-minded people not intellectually or aesthetically capable of comprehending that reality is more than a photographic image. For them, the medium is used for storytelling, as an off-shoot of theatre or literature, and the whole technology has been designed to substantiate that.

A film like Samadhi, for example, is intended to be a real documentary representation, as accurately as it was possible to make, of a real place and a real visual phenomenon that I perceived–just as I’m looking at you right now. Even on a superficial level everyone is willing to grant the existence of what they call phospheres.

Ok, now go deeper than those superficial things and allow that there are even deeper levels where visual perception still exists. A new language has to be developed which acknowledges and can speak from that awareness. And I think my kind of work has sort of opened up the means for doing that, a way of doing it which the storytelling film has neglected. They’re just telling the same old thing over and over again, not really trying to break into more expanded areas of awareness or understanding. Bergman’s a good case because he’s such a beautiful film-maker that you almost forget he’s still just telling his stories with the same old pictures, not only disallowing other aspects of reality, but not even hinting at them. (1975)

 

Ernest Callenbach on Belson

Samadhi is Sanskrit for "that state of consciousness in which the individual soul merges with the universal soul." This ultimate condition of consciousness is hence nonsensorial; the film is about approaches to it. It begins with a blast of red-yellow cloud, with huge wind noises–the turmoil of creation? Blue cloudy shapes emerge, revolving in space. Slowly a strong central orientation develops in the images: holes which transform into spherical shapes, whirls of filamented gaseous forms. A globular mass of light, insubstantial yet solid, liquescent, with boundaries yet impossible of definition, slowly and majestically revolves. This echoes the last image of Phenomena, which was, Belson says, what gave him courage to attempt Samadhi. This magical shape is perhaps the world, or is it an atom or some other elemental particle? It spins with an implacable grace. Then it is surrounded by a blazing ring of unbearably intense red; flames and pulses of movement pour out, with loud shrieks and gong-like noises on the track; the colors become incredibly delicate and lovely, and we see through a hole–the eye of the world? Then the whole screen is in huge movement, turning.