San Bernardino, California Born, 1992
The story of Sadako Sasaki inspired my origami folding seventeen years ago. Sadako survived the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, but had contrived leukemia in childhood, and had to spend the last days of her life in the hospital. She began fervently folding origami cranes from scraps of paper in the hospital, in order to fold one thousand, in hopes her wish would come true. She wished that she would get well again, and for the victims of the world to heal and attain peace. Sadako’s story moved me to end the atrocities that come with nuclear armament and begin folding origami cranes of my own. Over the next seventeen years, I continued to fold origami and seek methods of nonviolent conflict resolution.
The Nature of Origami
Any origami can be transformed into any other, simply by folding.
In origami there is a finite sheet of paper, from which, all folded features arise by concealing part of the paper’s exposed surface between the folds. Since the sheet is finite and folded relationships cannot be cut and paper cannot be added, every folded feature tends to become intimately and geometrically related in form and placement to every other folded feature. Yet, despite the complexity of these interdependent relationships and the finite resource of paper, the reliable design of specific folded forms is still possible. Yet more remarkable, is that any origami can be transformed into any other simply by folding.
My Origami Design Methodology and the Role of Mathematics
When I design origami I frequently do so in situ. I guide the evolution of a folded form knowing that every crease is applying geometric constraints that will affect all subsequent creases. And I’m careful to consider the remaining degrees of freedom that I have to fold yet more creases and produce more form. If a sequence of folds doesn’t appear to pan out, I’ll retreat and choose another avenue, and so on until I reach a form the meets my aesthetic, expressive, and or engineering requirements. This design method has the effect that all my origami are “genetically” related to each other, with families of folded forms being marked by where I made turns in the design space. The process by which I learned to navigate the sheet of paper’s design space was largely experimental, rather than mathematically derived. In other words, my understanding of origami design is the result of my scientific and artistic studies of folding. In much the same way that applying my origami design principles to produce specific folded forms is the act of engineering and artistic creation. Though I design origami using intuitive geometric principles, the large majority of my origami mathematics is the result of mathematically describing the geometric relationships of my preexisting origami and how changes to its creases will produce new folded forms. When I use my origami mathematics for engineering or art, I describe the properties of the folded form and solve for the creases within the constraints that I set up. Alternatively when I design origami, I fold arbitrary forms then I seek their expressive and or technical utility afterwards. Rather than produce an origami to suite a need, I fold origami and develop or seek needs that it satisfies.
The Relationship between Art, Science, and Engineering in Origami
For any work, I consider it’s properties artistic if they are subjective and personal, or objective and observed by others. How much agreement these properties gather, places them between the two worlds to me. (I do not recognize absolute objectivity, but rather various degrees of agreement in accordance with knowledge produced within the limitations of the scientific method). Likewise, I consider scientific study to be the origin of my origami design knowledge if my conclusions are verified by others and artistic otherwise, with all cases in between being correlated to various degrees of agreement and thus degrees between art and science.
The Role of Faith in Origami Design
Faith plays a role here too. I consider the property of an origami as being the result of faith, if the property persists independent of agreement and changes to the origami’s physical form. And for that reason I recognize origami design as being analogous to living sustainably, in faith; since agreement from others and the physical nature of origami folding are unessential in maintaining that belief.
Since we all share common resources, understanding how we all connect, interact, and depend on each other and our environment is essential for creating harmony. By recognizing and establishing relationships with each other and our environment we can place our ourselves in positions where we can resolve conflicts nonviolently and thrive sustainably. Living in harmony with each other and our environment opens new opportunities and endless possibilities. Even with something as simple as a sheet of paper it’s remarkable what harmony can achieve.