Ein Lichtspiel schwarz weiss grau

László Moholy-Nagy

25 January 1930

DVD. Duration: 5’ 25”. Courtesy: Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin/Hattula Moholy-Nagy.

Ein Lichtspiel schwarz weiss grau is perhaps Moholy-Nagy’s best known film work, and shows his Light Space Modulator, or ‘light prop for an electric stage’, as it was sometimes called.

Light Space Modulator is a key work in the history of kinetic and even new media art, and, arguably, one of the most important works of art of its period.

First conceived by Moholy equired a number of collaborators to get fully realised. It was intended as the centrepiece in the Contemporary Room of the Provinzialmuseum in Hannover, which had been planned (but was never realized) by Moholy-Nagy, along with the museum’s director, Alexander Dorner.

Light Space Modulator was exhibited in 1930 at an exhibition of the work of the German Werkbund in Paris. As an object, it is a complex and extremely beautiful arrangement of metal, plastic, and glass elements, many of which can move, driven by an electric motor, and are surrounded by arrangements of coloured electric lights.

Moholy-Nagy used it to produce light shows, which he then photographed or filmed, as for the film being shown here. The film captures the kinetic brilliance of the sculpture, albeit in black and white.