Models of Orbits in the System of Reference, Eshkol-Wachman Movement Notation System: Sphere Three at Five Points in Its Rotation, 2011

Courtesy the artist | Neugerriemschneider, Berlin | Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels | Blum and Poe, Los Angeles
Photo: Jens Ziehe

Five framed chromogenic prints
50 x 39.7 cm (each framed)

Sharon Lockhart’s series of twenty-two photographs titled Models of Orbits in the System of Reference, Eshkol-Wachman Movement Notation System document a spherical model of study of the Eshkol-Wachman Movement Notation System (EWMN). This highly original system for recording movements on paper was first published in 1958 by the choreographer, dancer, and textile artist Noa Eshkol in collaboration with the dancer and architect Avraham Wachman. To create a three-dimensional model for the theoretical framework of EWMN, Eshkol and Wachman made seven spheres out of wire and mesh representing the body. In this model, the position of each limb is defined by identifying its joint with the center of the sphere, and its axis with a line radiating from its origin to one of the points on its surface. This conceptual model is applied to every moving limb segment, to every limb group, then to the whole body. EWMN was originally developed to allow choreographers to write down a dance so that dancers could later reconstruct it in its entirety. Subsequently it was used to analyze and notate any form of human or nonhuman movement to capture as accurately as possible the subtleties of what the body is capable of.

In 1968, Eshkol and the scientist Heinz von Foerster experimented with EWMN in the development of second-order cybernetics at the Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL) at the University of Illinois. In the lab, von Foerster implemented the numerical encoding of motion and used it as a generative system that became instrumental for the programming at BCL. This collaboration resulted in an innovative foray into movement knowledge at the intersection of dance, computer science, and videography.

By placing the spheres in front of a flat gray background, Lockhart uses the language of the photographic still life but also the notion of stop motion. The spheres are photographed at different points in their rotation along the vertical axis that map each progressive movement, revealing a dynamic and morphing form that changes as much as a moving body would in relation to a viewer. Lockhart’s photographs are organized in sets of two, three, four, and five to methodically recapitulate the seven original spheres and the progressions of movement they illustrate. The sequence reflects the versatility and spatial application of these tools while emphasizing their aesthetic value.


Group show: Remedios
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba
Curator: Daniela Zyman
Exhibition 14 April 2023 -  March 2024


Exhibition: Sharon Lockhart. Rotation / Notation
Venue: Guggenheim Bilbao
Curator: Manuel Cirauqui
November 4, 2021- February 27, 2022

Born in Norwood, Massachusetts, USA, in 1964. Lives and works in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Panel Discussion: Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol, Vienna 2012
Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol - Performance at the Sesession, Vienna, 2012