February 14, 2007
Robert J. Lang isn't just a physicist and a software developer-- he's also one of the world's foremost paper-folding artists:
The laser cutter was growling away, scoring one of Lang's Hanji sheets. He twiddled with his computer. On the screen was a lacy geometric pattern. Lang had designed it with software he started writing in 1990 called TreeMaker, which is well known in origami circles; it was the first software that would translate "tree" forms -- that is, anything that sort of resembles a stick figure, such as people or bugs -- into crease patterns. Another program he wrote, ReferenceFinder, converts the patterns into step-by-step folding instructions. This secured his position as the most technologically ambitious of the origami masters. In 2004, he was an artist-in-residence at M.I.T., and gave a now famous lecture about origami and its relationship to mathematical notions, like circle packing and tree theory.
On Mr. Lang's website, you'll find the amazing crease patterns produced by his software.
To the non-origami person, the sequence that transforms a sheet of paper into a beautiful folded object can seem miraculous. Even to the origami aficionado, however, the idea that a single drawing of the creases conveys the full folding sequence can seem equally miraculous. But in fact, a crease pattern can sometimes be more illuminating than a detailed folding sequence, conveying not just "how to fold," but also how the figure was originally designed. And thus, it can actually give the folder insight into the thought processes of the origami composer in a way that a step-by-step folding sequence cannot.
The crease patterns are almost as beautiful as the origami art itself:
It's fascinating stuff. And the science of folding isn't just art; it has numerous real-world uses:
For centuries, origami patterns had at most thirty steps; now they could have hundreds. And as origami became more complex it also became more practical. Scientists began applying these folding techniques to anything -- medical, electrical, optical, or nanotechnical devices, and even to strands of DNA -- that had a fixed size and shape but needed to be packed tightly and in an orderly way.
Lang provides three practical implementations of Origami on his site: the design of laser optics, car airbags, and telescopes.
(via Jason Kottke)
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Reminds me of Flatlanders for some reason. See Imagining the Tenth Dimension, http://www.tenthdimension.com/medialinks.php, for an idea of what I'm referencing (can't recommend the book because I haven't yet read it--only heard of it in a short story "Found in a copy of Flat Landers").
I have never seen Origami this way before... but it's interesting how Origami can take something seemingly 2d (the paper) in a 3d world and make it mimic something in the third dimension (the spider doesn't move, but *woah* there's complexity there, still).
I have seen trigonometry and calculus this way before -- but only on a 2d screen (involving the process of raycasters, raytracers, and voxels) -- long before I ever needed to take a formal class in either area of math.
This work by Dr David Huffman might be of interest also. He was very interested in understanding how to make structures with curved folds.
Ow, my hands hurt just looking at that tarantula. I struggle with basic forms...
At first glance I thought the link to the spider picture was an error. Then I looked closer and realized it looked like a clay model because I only glanced. Looking closer I found out...it's PAPER.
To Mr. Lang...WOW!
If you're interested in Robert Lang's book: "Origami Design Secrets", you can find lots of information about it here:
I love knowing such intricate paper folding is even possible. I admire a person who can think this up and people who actually fold these into realistic looking replicas of insects, etc.
How many years must a beginner practice to have a prayer at doing this, I wonder. Maybe it's one of those questions with the answer, "If you have to ask, forget it."
damn you! an outstanding nasty origami. i hate spider and fear them. i wish to know how to fold that spider. very awesome!
even though I'm just 11, I'm an origami freak.but not as good as you!
Not to be disrespectful or anything... but this spider has two legs too many
wrong. that kind of spider has leg-like things on its head, i just forget the scientific name. look it up, you're online.
Right, the two leg-like appendages are called pedipalps and are actually part of the beast's mouth.
I have folded many Lang's model both from diagrams and crease patterns and ended up knowing a lot about these animals.