VISUAL STUDIES WEEK 2
Context: The Light Prop for an Electric Stage was a mobile object which projected light, creating moving reflections and shadows. You can access short excerpts of the projection on You Tube
One of the earliest electrically powered kinetic sculptures, Light Prop for an Electric Stage holds a central place in the history of modern sculpture. Representing the culmination of Moholy-Nagy’s experimentation at the Bauhaus, it incorporates his interest in technology, new materials, and, above all, light. Moholy sought to revolutionize human perception and thereby enable society to better apprehend the modern technological world. He presented Light Prop at a 1930 exhibition of German design as a mechanism for generating “special lighting and motion effects” on a stage. The rotating construction produces a startling array of visual effects when its moving and reflective surfaces interact with the beam of light. The sculpture became the subject of numerous photographs as well as Moholy’s abstract film Light play: Black, White, Gray (1930). Over the years the artist and later the museums made alterations to the sculpture to keep it in working order. It is still operational today.
László Moholy-Nagy’s Light Prop for an Electric Stage, 1930, is one of the key works in the history of twentieth-century sculpture, standing at the intersection of the histories of kinetic art, of the machine aesthetic, and of material innovation. Building on the artist’s exploration of effects of transparency and movement in his painted and photographic oeuvre, the Light Prop has also had a rich and influential afterlife, too. Under the artist’s supervision, it has been presented as a stage lighting device for abstract theatre (hence its earliest and best title), as a free-standing (immobile) sculpture, and as the main ‘actor’ in an experimental film by the artist. The sculpture has been in the collection of the Busch-Reisinger Museum since 1956. Both before and after 1956, the work suffered damage, alteration, inappropriate restoration, and mechanical instability. The work today stands at some distance from its pristine state: materials are misleading and the movement is so much compromised that it can only be operated for a few minutes every week.
The AV studio is available on Monday and Wednesday morning – as it is a dark space with strong photographic lights you can set up something quite dramatic.
Martin is ready to see you for spot welding & fabrication.
And we have some great materials – lights, cards, papers and tinfoil.
- Make lights, or lit objects, or sculptures that are about and use light.
- Experiment: make things that light can play through!
- Develop your light drawings to inform your making.
- Make your drawings into lights?
- Use your camera … document experiments with light and shade and translucency.
- Transfer your documentation to acetate for making cyanotype prints (for next week).
- Use the photocopier to manipulate your images.
- Play with streams of light, be it natural or artificial.
- Surprise, intrigue and fascinate us!