Saturday, 21 September 2013

Book Review: Folding Paper - the Infinite Possibilities of Origami

Folding Paper: the Infinite Possibilities of Origami

By Meher McArthur & Robert J. Lang

Tuttle Publishing, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8048-4338-6


Take a piece of paper, make a few deft folds – Magic! A bird, a bunny, or a box. Origami is a transformational craft, adored by kids and magicians. Surprise! In the past 50 years, origami itself has dramatically morphed from a craft into a unique artform with heavy-duty scientific credentials. Did you know that there is a professor of Computational Origami at M.I.T.?

This exquisite book, companion to an exhibition, chronicles the history of origami in both the East and West – and celebrates its coming of age. Origami – a craft for the 21st century.

Many books that accompany exhibitions are coffee table books – big pics and no substance. This book does indeed have magnificent photography – but the content holds its own. This title won’t gather dust because you’ll want to go back to it time and again. This lavishly-produced book is slim but substantial. It is both a history of origami and an appreciation.

Folding Paper is divided into two main sections, an illustrated history of origami by Meher McArthur, the author and exhibition curator. Part 2 is an essay by Robert J. Lang, physicist and origami guru. Dr Lang is an inventor of “circle packing”, a mathematical method of designing incredibly complex origami projects. Dr Lang’s section discusses how art and science come together in the artform of origami.

The history of origami has several you-couldn’t–make-it-up moments. For example, Frederich Froebel, the German educator and “inventor” of kindergarten – he of the folded Froebel Christmas Star ornament (Google it) – was responsible for putting origami on the Japanese school curriculum.

The rapid development of origami was kick-started in the 1950s when Akira Yoshizawa  (1911-2005), the father of modern origami, developed the now-familiar system of folding diagrams (you know, mountain folds, valley folds, directional arrows) for instructioning projects.  This brilliant system of notation bypassed language barriers and enabled the international exchange of ideas. A network of active origami appreciation societies grew wordwide. And the computer revolution and the internet was, of course, also an enabler.

Akira Yoshizawa also developed the technique of wet-folding, which facilitates the creation of more sculptural-looking origami. Organic forms.

Roughly speaking, origami practitioners can be divided into to camps – the geeks and the artistes (no offense intended). This makes for a lively exchange of ideas.

Back to the book, which showcases work from both camps.

Yes, origami can be designed using mathematical algorithms. An origami-based designs have been used for arterial stents and satellite telescopes.

Like the craft of origami, this book has the wow factor. If you have more than a passing interest in orgami, you’ll want to own a copy of this fascinating, exciting, and inspirational appreciation of a craft both traditional and modern. And of course, this title is very giftable. Behold the folds!

Amazon Link: Folding-Paper-Infinite-Possibilities-Origami/dp/0804843384/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379790637&sr=1-2&keywords=Folding+Paper 

Note: I was supplied with a review copy of this title.