light space modulator by moholy-nagy

light space modulator by moholy-nagy 01, originally uploaded by hc gilje.

(Slideshow of more images of the light space modulator here)

One of my inspirations for the research fellow program has been the work of Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, both his ideas related to labs, and his art work dealing with creating spaces with movement and light. I went to see the replica of the Light Space Modulator at the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, Holland, both to see how the physical space was altered, but also to investigate the translation from a 3D space created by the kinetic sculpture to the beautiful black-and-white film Schwartz-Weiss-Grau. I believe having read somewhere that Moholy-Nagy´s intention with the Light Space Modulator was as source material for the film, not as a freestanding sculpture. This would make sense to me, as it was a bit disappointing to see the installation in the museum, but interesting to look at it through my camera lens. Below you see a short recording I did, and an excerpt from Moholy-Nagy´s film. (video links updated jan 2014)

addendum feb 2008:

I discovered through ‘Y’ factor some interesting info in the bauhaus archive:

“The model consists in a cubic box […] with a circular opening (stage) at the front. Surrounding the opening, on the back side of the board, I have mounted a number of yellow, green, blue, red, and white electrical bulbs […]. Inside the box, parallel to the front, there is a second board, also with a circular opening, around which a further set of light bulbs is mounted.

Single bulbs light up at different places according to a pre-set plan. They illuminate a continuously moving mechanism, made partly of transparent, partly of cut-out materials, in order to create linear shadows on the back wall of the closed box. (When the presentation takes place in a dark room, the back wall of the box can be removed and the color and shadow projection behind the box projected on a suitable screen of open dimensions.)“

This means it installed wrong in the Van Abbe museum, you are supposed to look at it from one position, through two holes in a box which contained the kinetic object. The Van Abbe Museum have put it in the middle of a open room, with static light, thus ruining a lot of the interplay between changing lights,movement and shadows which was Moholy-Nagy´s intention (which probably explains why the film is more interesting than seeing the replica).

2 Responses to “light space modulator by moholy-nagy”

  1. moving objects « Conversations with spaces Says:

    […] lázlo moholy nagy light space navigator […]


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