Monday, February 20, 2012

My Origami Business Folded....

(I wrote this last week and finally got to the final edit)

On Sunday we had a wee one who was congested and coughing sufficiently to stay home from church.  So I had the duty this time and did what any parent does with some time to kill - pop in a movie and surf the internet.

I wanted sufficiently entertaining background noise and picked a documentary on origami called "Between the Folds" (via Netflix).  I didn't know what I signed up for - this was amazing.  So here's a review, but also something slightly more; a reflection.

Basically the art form has grown from simple critters for elementary school children to very complex and beautiful models.  The art has also grown in the analysis and supporting math.

This is from one sheet of paper (except the base).  It is called "Aragorn" crafted by Eric Joisel (

Eric was heavily featured in the documentary and with good reason; he's a master of his craft.

On top of wanting to make you get some paper and get to work - as all well captured art does - there was a story. I'm not sure the filmmaker intended to tell it, but covering people often ends up telling a story.

There is the usual tension of the artist loving his art and not wanting to part with it.  This reminded me of "My Name is Asher Lev" and how his sponsor basically raided his studio, collected his work, and set it up for auction.  It was too personal for him to go through that process.  Some of the origami artist have the same internal crisis.

The documentary started with masters of the tradition forms.  Trying to convey some message with the paper model.  Animals (real and fantasy), people.  Incredible detail and accuracy (proportion) that simply blew me away.

Then there was also a modernist artist with the approach of how much can you make with one fold.  More shapes than form focused.  I lean towards appreciating the details of the form pieces more than shapes.  I think more gets translated clearly with a form rather than a shape that a viewer has to interpret.

Another sect in the origami world were the organic/naturalists/hippies.  They focused on crumpling and the art in the process more than the final product.

Another intriguing group was the scientist/math realm.  There were complex shapes, software to detail ideas, and real world implications (airbags and medicine).  These folks were doing cool stuff that made my head hurt.

What popped out to me the most (the climax) was a line from one of the artists - "I've been doing this for over 30 years and I find I fold much less now".  The artist matured into appreciating the folds he didn't make. He used to fill his time with the details everywhere, and now lets the flat paper portion speak; because that's the message he has.

"Christ was crucified upon a hill, and not in a cavern, and the word Gospel itself involves the same idea as the ordinary name of a daily paper.  Whenever, therefore, a poet or an similar type of man can, or conceives that he can, make all men partakers in some splendid secret of his own heart, I can imagine nothing saner and nothing manlier than his course in doing so." - GK Chesterton

No comments:

Post a Comment