to cir·cle

Image of a moebius strip
Circling Geometries #1: the moebius strip

Drawing a line on a Moebius band, one full circle of the pen along the paper returns you to the same place, but on the other side, separated from your starting point by the thickness of the band.

circular movements and spaces,  circular and cyclical temporal forms

The filmTrop tôt, trop tard, produced by French filmmakers Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub in 1982, starts with a camera, mounted on a car driving repeatedly around the Place de la Bastille in Paris. The camera points outwards catching cars passing in other lanes, the buildings encircling the square, and the surrounding cityscape and a wide sky dotted with clouds. 

In total, the camera circles the square 14 times.

geometries of change

Geometrien der Versammlung

An actual round table was used during a meeting of the two German governments on February 13th 1990, where the requests of the delegation of the Central Round Table of the GDR were flatly turned down.

Members of the left GDR opposition gathered on September 20, 1990 at another Round Table outside of the Palast der Republik (parliament of the GDR) to protest the signing of the  German Reunification Treaty. The table was a cable reel from the  Kabelwerk Oberspree cable plant, whose staff faced the threat of mass layoffs since the plant had been taken over by the GDR’s Treuhand (trust agency established to re/privatise GDR enterprises post-unification).

In a circle, the starting point of a circumambulation and and its end point appear the same. A two-dimensional circling seemingly returns its circumambulators to the exact same place. The circle’s circumference C describes the distance covered in one such circling. Point B, diametrically opposed to Point A, is at the maximal distance from this starting point A. Completing the circle from B all the way around and back to A, can be perceived as a return.

Circling Geometries #2: diameter vs. circumference

Film Still, Trop tôt, trop tard

Film Still, Trop tôt, trop tard

In the second part of the film Trop tôt, trop tard, the camera is stationary, but turns around itself to scan the full circle of the landscape surrounding it towards the horizon. These shots were filmed in Cairo and the Egyptian countryside. From the circling camera, the narration shoots off tangents into different chronologies of the workers’ and peasants’ revolts that happened at the sites of the filming or spread from there through the width and breadth of the country at different points through its (colonial) history.  

Uprising ︎︎︎

  ︎︎︎Defeat               Defeat︎︎︎


Infinity is a circle, folded down the middle into a horizontal 8

Circling Geometries #3: the infinity sign
Anthropologist Victor Turner and performance theorist Richard Schechner developed a circular – 8-shaped – model of social change: social action and experience during revolution or protest turn into an implicit social process that is then narrativized into drama, from where it provides the implicit rhetorical structure that allows the next event of social action to take its concrete shape.

Language ︎︎︎

  ︎︎︎Experience      Experience︎︎︎


In On Speeches, dancer and choreographer Jasmin İhraç performs gestures of spinning and circling over a soundtrack consisting of political speeches by Angela Davis, Cornell West, and Slavoj Zizek.

Circling Geometries # 4:
the spiral

twirling, spiralling, spinning around

вре́мя: circular time

Etymologically the Russian word vremya (“time”) comes from the Ancient Slavonic v˴ rtmen (“turning”) and the Ancient Indian root vart – “turning”.

“Time accelerates. The senses are shaken. Hours pass rapidly between one gathering and the next, but then time slows down. The nights are loooong. Time contracts and expands, moved by a sea of people (principally but not only young people). It feels like we’ve been here for years, and it hasn’t been more than three days.”

“Seven key words on the Madrid-Puerta del Sol experience,” 15M, Guillermo Kaejane, 2011

To circle is to  keep moving while remaining in place.

technologies of revolution,
technologies of historiography

collective figures

Isadora Duncan, Revolutionary Etude (1921)

Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) is regarded as a revolutionary of modern dance. Her politics was radical, too.  In 1921 she moved to the Soviet Union to take part in the revolution and founded a dance school there, which later failed, due to lack of support from the Soviet state. Until today, her dances are passed down through the generations through direct transmission from dancer to dancer without the use of notation or visual aids.

from body to body

Dance/ ︎︎︎
Slightly altered              

︎︎︎  History                                                                                                                

︎︎︎Body of the

Dance Notation

Circling Geometries #5: from circle to spring

In 3D, a circle folds out into a helical spring. A circling is complexified: Seen from the top, a full circle returns you to the same place. Seen from the side, the circling reveals its irreversibility as the distance between the two loops. Change and non-change coexist, what you see is a function of from where you look.

after the end...

“The nation’s [same] backscratchers, those perpetual opportunists, who flourish on the dung of whichever system, are the ones that have made sure they are safe again, that nod along with everything, and come out on top no matter what.”

(East German worker, interviewed in July 1990

the beginning.

History is a helical spring.

Berlin, former Palace of the Republic, July 1991

In a helical spring, a circling remains forever incomplete.


The potential energy held by a (ideal) spring is a product of a coefficient – the qualities of the spring, its material, thickness, its diameter – and the length of the displacement from its rest position. To press down a spring requires work, that is, the magnitude of the force times the displacement (in the direction of the force). To keep the spring still, that is, from expanding once more, force is required, constantly.

Circling Geometries #6:
the physics of compression.

... to be continued