The Schematics of the Light Prop – László Moholy-Nagy & Stefan Sebök
Tuesday, 10 March 2015
The Mechanics of the Light Prop – László Moholy-Nagy & Stefan Sebök 
László Moholy-Nagy’s Light Prop for an Electric Stage, a kinetic light sculpture device capable of real-time expanded cinema projection, is well known and widely documented online. Lesser known are a series of associated drawings which were used as plans for the device, some of which were made in collaboration with the engineer Stefan Sebök. It was Sebök who was actually responsible for the design and build of the Light Prop mechanism. The plans for the Light Prop present graphic abstractions of the exploded view schematic where arrows indicate the movement of gear mechanisms and notate the choreography of the machine’s internal parts. The cubist-like multiple and distorted perspectives confound the positions and relationships of the components, perhaps intimating on the way in which light and shadow would be expanded, refracted, deflected and compressed by the device itself. The plans indicate Moholy-Nagy’s intentions to ‘produce a great range of shadow inter-penetrations and simultaneously intercepting patterns in a sequence of slow flickering rhythm’ with ‘discs made of polished metal slotted with regularly spaced perforations, and sheets of glass, celluloid and screens of different media’.
Construction Scheme for Light Display – László Moholy-Nagy [1922-30]
According to a passage in The Visual Mind II, edited by Michele Emmer, Moholy-Nagy never actually used the term ‘Light Space Modulator’ to describe his optokinetic device even though this term is more commonly used than ‘Light Prop’ in literature. Moholy-Nagy did, however, use the title ‘Space Modulator’ for a number of drawings, collages and works for some time after Light Prop was finished, and until his death in 1946.
Light Prop – László Moholy-Nagy