Jordan Belson «Mysterious Journey» 1997.

submitted on Fri, 2006-03-24 00:44. | | | |

Jordon Belson, Mysterious Journey

«If one were to isolate a single quality that distinguishes Belson's films from other "space" movies, it would be that his work is always heliocentric whereas most others, even 2001, are geocentric.» ~ Gene Youngblood, from 'Expanded Cinema'.

«A combination of molecular structures and astronomical events mixed with subconscious and subjective phenomena—all happening simultaneously. The beginning is almost purely sensual, the end perhaps totally nonmaterial. It seems to move from matter to spirit in some way». ~ Jordan Belson

The work of Belson was widely shown in the 1960s and 1970s. Often with abstract experimental contemporaries such as John & James Whitney, Harry Smith and Robert Breer or with historic avant-garde predecessors such as Hans Richter, Oskar Fischinger and Len Lye. You still occasionally come across all these names in retrospective programmes, but I would appear to be not the only one to forget Belson. Maybe he forgot himself too. In the late 1970s, he would appear to have removed a considerable section of his oeuvre from circulation and he seems to be an artist who prefers to withdraw to his laboratory-studio.

He would also appear to have survived his era. In a humorous and cynical biographical sketch on, Belson himself indicates how the world beyond Belson changed: "Then everything disappeared. All the goddam distributors, festivals and venues disappeared. I mean, they suddenly just weren't there anymore." At least not for the cosmic mist banks of Belson. Yet he later made two compilations, Samadhi and Other Films and Mysterious Journey, making part of the old work available. Those two compilations were on the DVD I received and I could start to get acquainted with the cosmic world of Belson. I should admit to the following right away. Belson's films are vague and woolly. Arty and crafted variants on psychedelic light shows. Youngblood went to great ends to describe in words the Milky Way nebulae and solar eruptions, often using 19th-century painting terminology, but that isn't really possible with work like this. At least not for me. And greater writers than me also found it difficult.