Light & Movement

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#14 Light & Movement
images of László Moholy-Nagy’s Light-Space Modulator

Lumino kinetic art is a combination of light and movement. One if its earliest proponents, Hungarian born Bauhaus member László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946), is regarded as one of the fathers of the lumino kinetic art movement. 

One of the main focuses for Moholy-Nagy was photography. He coined the term the New Vision for his belief that photography could create a whole new way of seeing the outside world that the human eye could not. He experimented with the (camera-less) photographic process of exposing light sensitive paper with objects overlain on top of it, called photograms.

some early photogram trials of my own
some early photogram trials of my own

In 1922, Moholy-Nagy created his Light-Space Modulator, one of the first Light Art pieces to combine Kinetic Art; a device with moving parts meant to have light projected through it in order to create mobile light reflections and shadows on nearby surfaces. With its gleaming glass and metal surfaces of mobile perforated disks, a rotating glass spiral, and a sliding ball, the Light-Space Modulator created the effect of photograms in motion. The geometric complexity of the design and the shapes created by shadows and light conveyed the dynamic possibilities of both machine and camera. Made for an exhibition held in Paris during the summer of 1930, it is often interpreted as a kinetic sculpture but, as a pioneer achievement of kinetic sculpture, it might also be seen as one of the earliest examples of Light Art.

Moholy-Nagy is also the author of one of my favorite design books – Vision In Motion. Here’s one enlightening excerpt:

“…the last step in this technique is the emphasis on integration through a conscious search for relationships – artistic, scientific, technical as well as social. The intuitive working mechanics of a genius gives a clue to this process. The unique ability of the genius can be approximated by everyone if only its essential feature be apprehended: the flashlike act of connecting elements not obviously belonging together. Their constructive relationships, unnoticed before, produce new result.

If the same methodology were used generally in all fields we would have the key to our age – seeing everything in relationship.” 

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