11 March 2017

Higher Than the Rainbow, 1986

The film that made me want to be a boy soprano, be good at high jump, and travel to wonderful places...

4 March 2017

Schlieren Optics

Well this sure looks interesting...

'the visualisation of the flow of fluids of varying density...'

2 March 2017

Blinded by sight

The BFI did a Jordan Belson retrospective this Tuesday, screening around a dozen of his films after a brief talk by Center for Visual Music curator and director Cindy Keefer, who explained some details of the time-consuming and expensive process that is still ongoing in the restoration of Belson's work.

Having watched fewer films than the average person during my life, I find myself very easily overwhelmed in the cinema. Almost anything can send me over the edge -- I hesitate to watch anything with even an age-rating of 15. But what shocked me with regard to Jordan Belson's films was of course not violent or explicit content, but rather the sheer vividness of the whole experience. The worlds he creates are liminal to the extreme; they seem to be forever shifting between spaces, between boundaries of colour, form, light.. These worlds are  at times three-dimensional, but these three dimensions are such that one can never quite understand one's location within them. They're almost like that vertiginous and uncanny world of illness; space shifts incessantly and colour seems almost invasive.

What shocked me above all, though, was the sensation that what I saw had a layer behind it, and another layer behind that -- an endless sequence of layers which are all visible through each other. This happens in Allures, Music of the Spheres and Samadhi, a film which is inspired by the concept of Buddhist meditation

That, and the sensation that scale in Belson's films frequently moves from the macrocosmic to the microscopic; in Allures,  a majestic and ostensibly extra-terrestrial object morphs into the figure of an atom, as Belson pushes forcefully at the limits of what the human eye can see -- nothing is too vast, or too minute, for representation. 

Outer space and the atom have already been seen by human eyes, and indeed Belson's work cannot and should not be limited to its link with 'the world out there' : rather its originality and singularity lie in his unprecedented visualisation of internal and psychological worlds teeming with lucid abstractions that surprise, shock, and revitalise. His films may be creations as powerful as the microscope and the telescope; they blind with newly-discovered sight.