Center for Visual Music




Jordan Belson (1926-2011) - Selected Bibliography

Scroll down for Vortex resources

Obits and press on his death are at bottom of page

Image above, stills from Samadhi




Albright, Thomas. "Imagery on Film." in San Francisco Chronicle, April 21, 1968.

--Art in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-80: An Illustrated History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

Anker, Steve, Kathy Geritz and Steve Seid, eds. Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945–2000. University of California Press and Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, 2010. Belson texts contain errata, e.g. he did not use an oscilloscope at Vortex.

Bendazzi, Giannalberto. Cartoons: One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation. Indiana University Press, 1995. EXCERPT

Beyer, Stephan. The Cult of Tara: Magic and Ritual in Tibet. University of California Press, 1978. P. 105.

Brougher, Kerry, et al. Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1990. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2005.

Bukatman, Scott. Matters of Gravity: Special Effects and Supermen in the 20th Century. Duke University Press, 2003.

Callenbach, Ernest. "Phenomena and Samadhi." Film Quarterly 21, no. 3 (Spring 1968): 48-9. On JSTOR

Camper, Fred. "1966 - 1967" in A History of the American Avant-Garde Cinema. New York: The American Federation of Arts, 1976. (on Samadhi)

Cassady, Carolyn. Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg. Penguin, 1991.

Curtis, David. Experimental Cinema: A Fifty-Year Evolution. London: Studio Vista, 1971.

D-Fuse. VJ: Audio-Visual Art and VJ Culture. Laurence King, 2006.

Eisenberg, Adam. "Low Tech Effects: The Right Stuff" in Cinefex 14 (October 1983). Excerpt.

Engelke, Henning. Metaphern einer Anderen Filmgeschichte Amerikanischer Experimentalfilm, 1940-60. Schüren Verlag, 2020 (German language).

Giannetti, Lewis. Understanding Movies. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1982 (Third Edition)

Grunenberg, Christopher, Ed. Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era. London: Tate Publishing, 2005.

Haller, Robert. Galaxy: Avant-Garde Film-makers Look Across Space and Time. New York: Anthology Film Archives, 2001.

Heaney, Stuart. Avant-Grade Hallucinogens: the Poetics of Psychedelic Perception in Moving Image Art. Close up online, 2014.

Hein, Birgit. Film im Underground. Verlag Ullstein, 1971.

Holmgren, Meredith. Henry Jacobs: An Interview.Smithsonian Folkways Magazine, Fall/Winter 2012.

Hoffer, Thomas A. Animation: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Press, 1981.

Igliori, Paola. "Interview with Jordan Belson" in American Magus: Harry Smith A Modern Alchemist. New York: InanOut Press, 1996.

James, David E. Allegories of Cinema: American Film in the Sixties. Princeton University Press, 1989.

Kael, Pauline. KISS KISS BANG BANG. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, Little Brown & Co.,1968. 12-13.

Kaiser, Henry. The Visionary Art of Jordan Belson. San Francisco Bay Guardian, 1998.

Keefer, Cindy. "Space Light Art" - Early Abstract Cinema and Multimedia, 1900-1959. in White Noise. Ernest Edmonds, Ed. (Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2005). Exhibition Catalog.
---- "Cosmic Cinema and The Vortex Concerts." Cosmos: The Search for the Origins, from Kupka to Kubrick. Arnauld Pierre, Ed. Madrid:El Umbral/Santa Cruz de Tenerife:TEA, 2008. Exhibition catalog. Extensive essay on the history of Vortex.
---- Jordan Belson (Biography). The Third Mind; American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989. Alexandra Monroe, Ed. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2009. Exhibition catalog.
---- "'Raumlichtmusik' - Early 20th Century Abstract Cinema Immersive Environments." Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Creative Data Special Issue, Vol 16, no 6-7. MIT Press/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, October 2009. (PDF).
----"Jordan Belson and The Vortex Concerts: Cosmic Illusions." Sonic Acts XIII: The Poetics of Space. Spatial Explorations in Art, Science, Music & Technology. Arie Altena , Ed. Amsterdam: Sonic Acts Press, Paradiso, February, 2010.
----"Jordan Belson, Cosmic Cinema and the San Francisco Museum of Art." SF MOMA Open Space, October 12, 2010.

--- "Visual Music's Influence on Contemporary Abstraction" in Abstract Video: The Moving Image in Contemporary Art, Gabrielle Jennings, Ed. University of California Press, 2015

Kimmelman, Michael. What Music might look like as Modern Art. New York Times, July 6, 2005.

LeGrice, Malcolm. Abstract Film and Beyond. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1977

Lev, Peter. The Fifties: Transforming the Screen, 1950-1959. University of California Press, 2006.

Longworth, Karina. Masters of Cinema: George Lucas. Phaidon, 2012.

MacDonald, Scott. "Interview with Jordan Belson," A Critical Cinema 3: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

----cinema 16: Documents Toward a History of the Film Society. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002.

----Art in Cinema: Documents Toward a History of the Film Society. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006.

----Canyon Cinema: The Life and Times of an Independent Film Distributor. University of California Press, 2008.

Marche, Jordan D. II. Theatres of Time and Space: American Planetaria, 1930-1970. Rutgers University Press, 2005.

McConville, David. Cosmological Cinema: Pedogogy, Propaganda and Pertubation in Early Dome Theatres. Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Reseach, Vol 5, no. 2, April 2007. Available online here and also through Intellect online

Mollaghan, Aimee. The Visual Music Film. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Milutis, Joe. Ether: The Nothing That Connects Everything. University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

Moritz, William. Beyond "Abstract" Criticism, Film Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, no. 3, Spring 1978.
----"Non-Objective Film: The Second Generation." In Film as Film, Formal Experiment in Film, 1910 - 1975. London: Hayward Gallery/Arts Council, 1979. Belson Excerpt
----"Abstract Film and Color Music." in The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art Exhibition Catalog). New York: Abbeville Press, 1986. Belson excerpt
----Jordan Belson Biography In L'art du Mouvement 1919-1996, ed. Jean-Michel Bouhours, Cinema du Musee national d'art moderne (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 1996) (English translation online)
----Jordan Belson, Last of the Great Masters. Animation Journal. Orange, CA: Chapman University, 1999.
----Optical Poetry: The Life and Work of Oskar Fischinger. John Libbey Publishing and Indiana University Press, 2004. pp. 168-169.

Perchuk, Andrew and R. Singh, eds. Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular. Getty Publications, 2010.

Pike, Robert Marvin. A Critical Study of the West Coast Experimental Film Movement. MA Thesis submitted to UCLA, July 1960 Contains errata. Collection CVM.
----"The West Coast Experimental Scene." Scenario, Vol 1, no. 2. East Rockaway, NY, 1960

Pyramid Films Study Guide/Description. Cycles, A Film by Jordan Belson and Stephen Beck. c. 1974. PDF at Experimental Television Center's Video History Project.

Renan, Sheldon. An Introduction to the American Underground Film. London: Studio Vista, 1968; New York: Dutton, 1967.

Rogers, Holly. Sounding the Gallery: Video and the Rise of Art-Music. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Sargeant, Jack. Naked Lens: Beat Cinema. SCB Distributors, 2002.

Scheugl, Hans and Ernst Schmidt Jr. Eine Subgeschichte des Films. Lexikon des Avantgarde-, Experimental- und Undergroundfilms (2 vols). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1974 (German language).

Sitney, P. Adams, Ed. Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 1943-1978. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. (note: Belson is included in all 3 editions of this book)
----The Essential Cinema: Essays on the films in the collection of Anthology Film Archives. New York: Anthology Film Archives and New York University Press, 1975.

Sturhahn, Larry. "The Film Art of Jordan Belson." Filmmakers Newsletter 8, No 7, May 1975. Excerpts

Tan, Ying. The Unknown Art of Jordan Belson. Originally published in Animation Journal. Maureen Furniss, Ed. Orange, CA: Chapman University, Spring 1999.

Wees, William. Light Moving in Time: Studies in the Visual Aesthetics of Avant-Garde Film. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Youngblood, Gene. "The Cosmic Cinema of Jordan Belson." In Expanded Cinema. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1970. Hosted online by Vasulka Archive. Note: There is also now a 50th anniversary version, with the same text but a new introduction.

----"The Cosmic Cinema of Jordan Belson." in Film Culture Reader, P. Adams Sitney, Ed., Spring 1970
----"In Memoriam: Jordan Belson (1926-2011), in Millenium Film Journal 55, Spring 2012.

We do not include texts with numerous factual errors.


A few Resources on Vortex Concerts


Morrison Planetarium's Academy Projector set up for Vortex Concerts. From Youngblood, Expanded Cinema.


Primary Texts for beginning research on Vortex Concerts: Scott MacDonald (Interview with Belson in A Critical Cinema 3); Gene Youngblood (Expanded Cinema); Cindy Keefer (several essays listed above). See above for links and sources. Please note, many texts online (including some Moritz texts) contain numerous inaccuracies about Vortex.  

LP, CD and other links related to the Vortex Concerts (1957-1959):"Highlights of Vortex: Electronic Experiments and Music." Various Artists. Originally released as a Folkways LP, 1959. Now in the Smithsonian Folkways Recording Collection.

 Electronic Kabuki Mambo, Henry Jacobs. CD of Highlights from Vortex. Locust Music, 2002.

Time Magazine. The Sick Machine. February 2, 1959.

Holmgren interview above includes slideshow with images of several Vortex programs.

See main Belson page for image of Hirsh oscilloscope footage used in a Vortex V presentation reel (recently restored by CVM), and details regarding an original Vortex V poster.


Cover, Vortex 5 program, 1959. Collection CVM


September-October 2011: Obits, news items on Belson's death:

"Kuchar, Belson Bid Adieu" - SF360, Sept 8

Jordan Belson, Experimental Filmmaker, Dies at 85. New York Times, by Margalit Fox, Sept 10 (reprinted in Boston Globe)

Two Great Losses to Experimental Film This Week, Canyon Cinema online News, Sept 10

Jordan Belson: Experimental Filmmaker Dies at 85. Forbes, Sept 10

Jordan Belson (1926-2011),

Jordan Belson, RIP. Cartoon Brew blog, by Amid Amidi

Experimental Animator Jordan Belson Dies. Animation World Network, by Rick DeMott, Sept 21

Senttience in Celluloid on Advaita Academy blog, by Paula Marvelly, October 1

Light years: Paying tribute to Jordan Belson's cosmic cinema. Max Goldberg, San Francisco Bay Guardian. October 18



Short Reviews and Press

"Days of Heaven and Waco: Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life". By David Sterritt, Film Quarterly. Vol 65, no. 1, Fall 2011. (Brief mention)

Movies to take Drugs To: Jordan Belson's Trippy Shorts by Michael Joshua Rowin, Los Angeles Weekly, March 24, 2011. (Contains errors: e.g. Belson was not involved with TM movement)

The Bay Area Arrives by Jonathan Kiefer, Feb. 25, 2010. On KQED Arts.

Define Intervention by Melissa Gronlund, May 6, 2009 on

Curating Contemplation by Caitlin Jones, March 11, 2009, re The Third Mind exhibition at Guggenheim.

Gaze East and Dream. Review of Guggenheim exhibition The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989, by Holland Cotter. New York Times, Feb. 1, 2009.

Jordan Belson: Films Sacred and Profane by Miss Ward. May 1, 2008. On the Belson Retrospective show in Brisbane.

Sight and Sound - DVD Review by Tom Charity. London: British Film Institute, January 2008.

DVD of the Year (2007) - Belson DVD in many Top Ten lists on - Review of Jordan Belson: Essential Films DVD by Doug Cummings, October 5, 2007

The 213 - Review of Jordan Belson: Essential Films DVD by Brad Glanden, 2007

New York Magazine. A Real Bummer, Review of Summer of Love exhibition by Jerry Saltz. June, 2007

New York Times, With Music for the Eye and Color for the Ear, July 1, 2005

Wired, Life After Darth, Issue 13.05, May 2005

Artforum, 2005 (Summer and October issues)




Bibliography compiled by and (c) C. Keefer, Center for Visual Music, 2007-2020. Please obtain permission before duplicating, publishing or distributing.

Publications with substantial errata are not included

Last updated 2022

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