László Moholy-Nagy, Lumia and the Light-Space Modulator



Light-Space Modulator, László Moholy-Nagy

The first written assignment for this MA in Graphic Design was a critical analysis, and the submission of an annotated bibliography of research and reading examples.

The deadline for the critical analysis was drawing near and I had yet to find anything to critique. It was also a good while since I had written any kind of essay. I had decided on a key word for my initial studies, ‘Illuminated’, which was taken from my initial statement when I applied.

But ‘Illuminated’ means so much, with so many different connotations and meanings. I started by looking at illuminated manuscripts – I had seen some fine examples of pre-printing press illuminated manuscripts earlier in the year at the Hungarian Gallery in Glasgow. I was interested in the history and cultural significance of these methods of producing books.


Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery @RCJPhotog

However, most of the literature I was finding on the subject was archaic, dry, academic and not particularly controversial or of interest from an analytical point of view. Also, books on the subject were hard to find locally and extortionate on Amazon. I could not find much I could say at this point on that subject. So, I moved on to something of equal interest.

A number of subjects sprang up as I searched through the university’s library of articles and notes.

Edit Toth had written an essay on one of the early twentieth century’s most intriguing sculptures – Bauhaus tutor and artist László Moholy-Nagy’s  ‘Light Prop for an Electric Stage’. I had seen the sculpture in person earlier this year when visiting the Bauhaus Archiv in Berlin (or at least a close replica of the original).  It made an immediate visual impression.

Bauhaus Archiv

Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin @RCJPhotog

What grabbed me about the essay was both the subject matter and Toth’s arguments, not all of which I agreed with. The academic way of phrasing arguments in the essay made critiquing it accurately difficult for me, especially as I was so out of practice. I had not had to write an academic essay since I graduated from Napier in 2000. However I still managed to submit on time, and was moderately please with the results.

I became aware of a whole different world of light art, including lumia, and light manipulations as a source of new forms and structures in creative design. It made for an interesting week, learning more about the sculpture, its creator and chatting about the Bauhaus over dinner, as well as writing and re-writing this assignment.

You can read my final submitted assignment here and, by all means, offer constructive criticism or some thoughts of your own.

Now I just have to await the results.


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