Center for Visual Music


Abstract Film and Color Music (excerpt) by William Moritz il


The paintings, films, and video compositions of [James] Whitney's friend Belson are well known for their spiritual integrity.[25] Belson was greatly influenced by Wilfred's lumia, which he perceived as offering a key visual access to the primal phenomena that are the shared concern of Vedic Toga, speculative fiction, and scientific theory. Unlike Wilfred, Belson is not bound by specific mechanical cycle; he blends numerous lumina manifestations together with hard-edged geometry (as in Allures, 1961) and occasional brief allusions to ordinary earthly activities. The resulting flow of images, coupled with Belson's own sound collages, evokes a complex synesthetic microcosm/macrocosm, which refers to the spiritual fourth dimension of Bragdon and Wilfred as well as to later relativity theory. Over a series of fifteen films Belson has reused specific lumia images as symbolic hieroglyphs (for "light," "chakra," "meditative stare," "flight," and so forth). The hieroglyphs function as words and phrases in a nonobjective language, which Belson uses for discussion of such topics as the scientific aspect of transferring from one state to another (Re-Entry, 1964) and celestial ecstasy (Samadhi, 1967).



[25] Gene Youngblood, Expanded Cinema (New York: Dutton, 1970), 157-77, 388-91; P. Adams Sitney, Visionary Film (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 262-74; Whitney, interviews with author; and Belson, interviews with author.

Originally published in The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Exhibition Catalog). Abbeville Press, 1986.

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