Versatility of Origami

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Versatility of Origami

Postby saadya » November 23rd, 2005, 6:42 pm

Ever notice this? If you make BIRDS from origami, you can very quickly convince yourself that folded paper is the perfect medium for capturing a bird’s essential nature---that origami and birds were somehow MADE for each other.

But then you do frogs, and think the same; and hippopotomi, and think the same; and insects; and turtles; and flowers; and--------
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Postby mleonard » November 26th, 2005, 12:48 am

Yes - and no....

I understand the world through folded paper. I try and express myself through folded paper. And yet I feel that there is a great deal that escapes me...

Birds and animals and flowers and things no longer interest me. The human body. Sex. The human face. Being in love. Being without love. Death. Grief. Religion. Pain, despair, longing... These are the things that interest me. These are the things that I want to capture in folded paper and which, as yet, I cannot...
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Postby saadya » November 29th, 2005, 10:29 am

I deliberately held off mentioning HUMANS in that list, both because there’s another thread running on this and because technically and artistically in origami we’re not quite there yet. Still, I’ve had a sentiment very similar to the one about animals with regard to humans too. Namely: that there is something about folded paper, maybe its impermanence, thinness, vulnerability, refoldability—which makes sculpting in it more appropriate for human subjects (even if still technically harder) than sculpting in clay, stone, wood or metal. Those traditional solid materials all seem to freeze or kill or falsely eternalize & raise what they represent, while paper stays at the same level--just as warm, as frail, as free and as alive.

But as to the supposed gulf with birds and lizards, flowers and horses and things---I’ve had pretty sharp shifts of opinion about this. On the one hand, I left off origami animal design for almost a dozen years out of dissatisfaction with its artistic or expressive potential. (Too soon as I now think, having seen the work of e.g. Komatsu and Roman Diaz). And got back into origami only when I could find a road into human figuration and expression, or the faint beginnings of one.

On the other hand: there is so much principled affinity between what makes things attractive or evocative in the animate and even inanimate world, and this applies to human beings too. The laws of evocation or ‘signalling’ are much more tightly bound than is usually acknowledged. A male mallard with its iridescent head is imitating the colors of the sky at sunset; this for all we know was already found attractive by (a desideratum for) a long line of its female ancestors. A bit more obviously, it was the insects who taught the first angiosperms to produce the extravagant and exquisite forms of flowers---all in line with insect tastes and fantasies. (Tastes which somehow connect with ours despite 600 million years of distinct evolution, and a common ancestor with quite rudimentary vision.) Some insects even went a step further: they began to demand of their mates the same visual qualities they had long been insisting on from flowers. The result was----the Butterfly.

This sort of fusion or merger of signals and forms has not passed by us humans, either. Look for a moment at these random wave shapes, which I made a while back from brown paper.

http://www.saadya.net/Curvigami/sand-curves.jpg

They look a little like patterns of sand on a beach or dunes carved by the wind; or maybe like hills in the distance just before sunset. Now, some of this shaded-curve effect is visible in the human body too: in the nape of the neck, or the space under the shoulder-blades on the back of a child. Those soft sand-shadows, that provoke so infinite a tenderness. Here the body has picked up the compassion of a landscape, or maybe projects onto the landscape a softness it already knows.

In short, let’s not be too hasty in dismissing traditional paperfolding--or the haunting crispness, presentness and fragility its best animal forms have--even as we struggle to widen the lexicon for human origami figuration.
Last edited by saadya on January 8th, 2006, 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby mleonard » December 3rd, 2005, 10:41 pm

I've never thought of it in those terms before - impermanence, thinness, vulnerability, refoldability.... You are of course correct. Despite my current frustrations, I don't think I could work seriously in any other medium. I don't really want to dismiss traditional paper folding - my inability to express what I want to is entirely due to my own inadequacies. But I feel that it is good to struggle - even if we do not reach a breakthrough, the struggle itself is of value. I hope so, anyway.
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Postby dani luddington » December 4th, 2005, 7:03 pm

Saadya,
I find your posts very thought provoking, and thank you for sharing your insights with us. Your posts seem to have come at the perfect time as I have been doodling with faces a little. I am not sure if I should post here or on the other post you speak of, sorry if this is the wrong place.
I have always been fascinated with the human face/figure as I am sure a lot of others are.
If anyone wants to try an experiment today and can find a willing person or animal, (dogs might go for it with a snack of sorts, doubt the cat will co-operate) :D. Have them lie down and you put a damp sheet of paper over their face and make some preliminary folds to get the shape of the face, then play with it and see what you come up with. I tried it, not knowing what would happen, and got wonderful surprising results which looked nothing like my 6'2 son, (who was my model), but did look like a sculptured face, primative but sculptured. That was my first "mask" I made, so it is up on a shelf right now, Yes...! I am admiring my own work! but it is also there for me to look and see how I can improve or change elements, etc. I think the process is the most important for me. If anyone tries this experiment please let us all know what becomes of it and pics if you can, I don't have a way for pics unfortunately, also let us know your thoughts as your mask/face progressed. TRY WETFOLDING TODAY! go for it! Sincerely, Dani

PS:I hope this helps someone to be able to start creating a little bit on their own away from diagrams and see how it is done. I think we might be stepping a bit away from just folding at a table, but isnt that how serendipity happens?
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Postby saadya » December 4th, 2005, 8:28 pm

Hmmm…. maybe this belongs in the thread on foil vs. wetfolding, but: back in the days when I was playing with foil (straight kitchen foil) I did something similar to the only victim who was willing:

http://www.saadya.net/Aluminum/twins.jpg
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