Rudolf Laban and Topology: a Videographic Analysis

Article English OPEN
Salazar Sutil, N (2013)
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications

This article explores the somewhat neglected theory of topological movement developed by the Hungarian artist and researcher Rudolf Laban. The piece begins with an examination of Laban’s understanding of space in relation of the notion of the kinesphere. I argue that Laban’s idea of space is essentially derived from a rationalization of outer movement (geometry), which enables him to break movement down into analytical units, and rearrange these into a meaningful syntax, a language (dance, mime, or theatre). I then go on to explain Laban’s idea of a synthesis between outer movement, and another sphere of movement known as dynamospheric (which refers to more fundamental inner forces that involve psychological and emotional dynamics). Crucially, these dynamic forms are modelled by Laban through the use of topological surfaces. I further support my analysis by an investigation of Laban’s unpublished book Effort and Recovery, and also by taking a videographic approach to a number of important filmic studies of topological movement observation. The article concludes with the idea that Laban’s graphic approach to movement analysis can be further enhanced, particularly within the study of topological dynamics, with the help of vision technologies such as film, video, and computer animation. I briefly discuss William Forsythe’s reinterpretation of Laban’s analysis via moving-image technologies, before concluding with a short description of a video study entitled Labanimations, which I carried out recently with video artist Sebastian Melo, and in which I reexamine Laban’s artwork through video techniques such as long exposure photography and slit scan.
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