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'Jordan Belson' (born 1926, Chicago, Illinoismarker –) is an Americanmarker artist and filmmaker who has created nonobjective, often spiritually oriented, abstract films spanning six decades.

Belson studied painting at the University of California, Berkeleymarker. He saw the "Art in Cinema" screenings at the San Francisco Museum of Artmarker beginning in 1946. The films screened at this series inspired Harry Smith, Belson and others to produce abstract films. Belson's first abstract film was Transmutation (1947). His first films were made with his scroll paintings. Belson's work was screened later as part of the "Art in Cinema" series.

He was the recipient of a grant from the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, which later became the Guggenheimmarker (Oskar Fischinger recommended him to the MoNOP curator Hilla von Rebay). Much of his work is meant to evoke a mystical or meditative experience.

In 1957 he began a collaboration with sound artist Henry Jacobs at the Morrison Planetariummarker in San Francisco, Californiamarker that lasted until 1959. Together they produced a series of electronic music concerts accompanied by visual projections at the Planetarium, the Vortex Concerts. Belson as visual director programmed kinetic live visuals, and Jacobs programmed electronic music and audio experiments. This is a direct ancestor of the "Laserium©"-style shows that were popular at planetaria later in the century. These shows involved projected imagery, specially prepared film excerpts and other optical projections specifically developed for use on the hemispherical screen. Not just an opportunity to develop new visual technologies and techniques, the sound system in the planetarium enabled Belson and Jacobs to create an immersive environment where imagery could move throughout the entire screen space, and sound could move around the perimeter of the room.

Belson also created special effects for The Right Stuff (1983).

Belson is still making films and fine art today. His latest film "Epilogue" was commissioned for the Visual Music exhibition at the Hirshhorn/Smithsonian, and completed in 2005. It was produced by Center for Visual Music [214653] with support from the NASA Art Program. The New York Times described it as having "lush and misty optics".


  • Transmutation (1947)
  • Improvisation #1 (1948)
  • Mambo (1951)
  • Caravan (1952)
  • Bop-Scotch (1952)
  • Mandala (1953)
  • Raga (1958)
  • Séance (1959)
  • Allures (1961)
  • LSD (1962) Unfinished film. According to Belson it should not be on his filmography
  • Re-entry (1964)
  • Phenomena (1965)
  • Samadhi (1967)
  • Momentum (1968)
  • Cosmos (1969)
  • World (1970)
  • Meditation (1971)
  • Chakra (1972)
  • Light (1973)
  • Cycles (1975) made with Stephen Beck
  • Music of the Spheres (1977)
  • Infinity (1980)
  • Quartet (1982)
  • Fountain of Dreams (1984)
  • Northern Lights (1985)
  • Mysterious Journey (1997)
  • Bardo (2001)
  • Epilogue (2005)


  • Jordan Belson [214654] Bibliography at Center for Visual Music library, contains links to articles online
  • Keefer, Cindy. Space Light Art: Early Abstract Cinema and Multimedia, 1900-1959. White Noise. Ernest Edmonds, Ed. (Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2005). Revised version is online at CVM Library.
  • MacDonald, Scott. "Interview with Jordan Belson", A Critical Cinema 3: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998)
  • Moritz, William. [214655] "Jordan Belson, Last of the Great Masters", Animation Journal (Orange, CA: Chapman University, 1999), online at CVM Library.
  • Sitney, P. Adams. Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde 1943-1978 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979) (Reprinted, second and third editions)
  • Youngblood, Gene. Expanded Cinema (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1970)
  • Keefer, Cindy. "Cosmic Cinema and The Vortex Concerts." Cosmos: The Search for the Origins. Arnauld Pierre, Ed. (Madrid: El Umbral/Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 2008).
  • Keefer, Cindy. Jordan Belson (Biography). The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia. 1860-1989. Alexandra Monroe, Ed. (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2009). Exhibition catalog.
  • Keefer, Cindy. [214656]'Raumlichtmusik' - Early 20th Century Abstract Cinema Immersive Environments. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Creative Data Special Issue. Leonardo: The International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology, and MIT Press. October 2009. PDF.

Secondary source
  • Brougher, Strick, et al. Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900 (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2005) contains little info not found elsewhere, but some good images

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