I had the distinct pleasure of watching Between the Folds recently and was absolutely blown away. Winner of the 2010 Peabody Award, in addition to taking the title of Official Selection at over forty-five film festivals around the world, this documentary takes all of the mundanity out of origami.
Now, first I must say that I have been a fan and practitioner of origami for as long as I can remember, and I don’t believe that there is anything mundane about it. That being said, I think it’s safe to say that most of the population probably thinks it’s a pretty banal activity. But even I, as fan and practitioner, was taken aback by the tremendous complexity and scientific implications of the world of folded paper.
The film focuses on a few origami “artists”, although most of them seem to be more philosopher, scientist, or mathimatitican than artist. One particular man makes a connection between a piece of paper folded in on itself and the structure of the known universe. There is one artist who sits down with paper and simply creates, never has he made the same thing twice. This is heady stuff.
The movie spends a little time with Erik Demaine, who I had heard about previously. Erik graduated high school at age 12, college at 14, got his PhD at 20, and was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship in 2003. He is currently a professor of Computer Science at MIT and is working toward solving many of life’s more complicated problems through the critical study of mathematical origami.
I would highly recommend watching this movie to anybody who is even slightly interested in origami, or anybody who has an open and inquisitive mind. It is not a PBS program, but can be seen on PBS from time to time. It’s also on Netflix, and is available for streaming. Watch it!
What is art if not a study of light? This is a question I have grappled with for many years, since taking Photography classes in high school. It seems to me that most traditional art forms are about just that, and those that are not intrinsically about it are often shaped by it.
There are many artists that experiment with these ideas in their daily work, one of which is New York’s own Kumi Yamashita. I call her work “shadow sculpture”, because that seems to be the best way to describe it.
Some of these images you might have to enlarge in order to get the full effect, you can do so by simply clicking on them. Sculpture is about so much more than just form and (sometimes) function. Sculpture, being an object made in three dimensions and standing in a space, casts shadows. Kumi’s artwork takes the actual artwork out of the equation, and makes the artwork about the casting of light and the casting of shadows.
I am always searching for new ways of making art, because if we don’t continue to experiment and find new processes then art becomes rote. Kumi Yamashita is on to something here, I think that much is obvious. As I said, she is not the only artist working in “shadow sculpture” and I encourage you to seek out the work of Tim Noble and Sue Webster (who make shadow art from recycled materials), among others.
Proch is a Polish graffiti artist and animator who not only works on walls, but also on paper and canvas. There is a certain street art mentality to all of his work, regardless of what surface it’s executed upon. Music is an important influence on Robert, and you can tell in the improvisational nature of many of his brush strokes.
The title of this painting (above) is “Jazz in free times #1“. The subject matter matches the visual style, much like many of the painters and musicians of the Harlem renaissance. The painting below is called “Tweens“, and has a slightly different focus. The nervous hands near the top of the canvas, and the hands that cover the eyes of the central character, speak to the anxiety, angst and stress that young people are faced with today.
As mentioned earlier, Robert also works with animation. He has a channel on Vimeo, and I would highly recommend checking it out. Below is a short example of one of his animations, titled “Skoki“.
Skoki from robert proch on Vimeo.
Lenka is not one of those artists that sticks with a medium. She is, however, the type of artist that sticks with a message. Her message, which I like to call the harrowing aftermath, transcends all of her work no matter what it’s made out of. She was born in the Czech Republic, and moved to the United States in 1989. I’d like to theorize that the great Chernobyl meltdown of 1986 somehow informed her artistic mission, though I’m not sure if that’s actually true.
She’s communicating the idea that our actions, as humans, have inevitable and often dire consequences that we neglect to take into account. It’s a heady message, I know, but is nonetheless worth exploring. Art is an excellent medium to get this message across, because nothing can produce an emotional reaction in humans like visual imagery. These paintings are powerful. While she does also work with paper, metal, and other materials, I find her paintings to be the most powerful medium she works with.
I would highly recommend visiting her web site, which has images of most of her work, including installation and sculptural work.
There are many different kinds of street art. This particular variety happens to be beautifully and painstakingly rendered on a very large scale. Mac is a graffiti artist, his only message that of pure aesthetic beauty. He’s taken one of the artists’ worst nightmares (the human face) and makes it look easy.
His work is very painterly, even though he uses no brushes. He is a bit of a mysterious figure, despite being a perveyor of the legal kind of graffiti, and there is very little information out there about his methods.
What I do know is that his work is widely commissioned, and his murals often become the stuff of landmarks. MAC reminds us that our old antiquated notions of street art are in desparate need of an upgrade.