Paper folding is easy to do by hand and does not require sophisticated tools. Describing paper folding scientifically and representing the morphology that occurs when a flat sheet of paper is folded, however, requires complex mathematical and computational modeling. While traditional origami is a human activity, folds also occur in natural phenomena, and they can be seen, for example, in the folding and unfurling of leaves in the rain, in protein expressions, and where tectonic plates collide and form rugged mountains and valleys. In nature, folding is at work everywhere and can be seen everywhere. For some scientists, at both the macroscopic and microscopic scales, nature ‘folds’ rather than ‘builds.’
I am fascinated by folding as a tactile process of working with the material—for instance, paper. Conceptually, folding is always in-between, bringing together two edges and the inside and outside. As a material operation, folding is always unstable. A fold stores kinetic energy, which allows the folded form to contract and unfurl. I use balancing, connecting, hinging, suspending, pulling, and popping in my works. I often fold intuitively and tactually, oscillating between states of disequilibrium and equilibrium. A simple fold has many possibilities and can generate many visual results, and it can be discovered only by folding.
I am intrigued by these naturally-occurring folds and how they can be analyzed in order to understand nature. Unfolding a folded design reveals a patterned map of creating and generating. And this map also called a ‘crease pattern,’ is often the result of counterintuitive deliberation and calculation based on mathematical understanding. While it is difficult to describe the folded form through the visual characteristics of the folds on this map, it is more difficult to reverse engineer and come up with logical patterns of folds that can then be folded into desirable forms. I often employ mathematical understanding and computational algorithms in generating a map of folds.
One cannot understand folds without folding. Folds appear to be abstract, yet folding is grounded in material reality. To bring folds and folding together, I alternate between intuition and calculation, imagination and logic. An accidental crimp or crinkle in the material may reveal an internal logic to organizing and abstracting the fold. When all the folds are organized and folded, then folding in the material may behave in a self-organized way. When this happens, I stop folding. I observe how the material self-folds and self-assembles.
In addition, I am drawn to folded light. I try to understand how light, either emitted or reflected, interplays with folded materials. When light interacts with the mountains and valleys of a folded surface, the light is reflected from facets of the three-dimensional material folds, folding, bending, and together generating a dramatic perceptual quality of gradations and luminosities of folds in a fourth dimension. When the light is dynamic and generative, it adds a fifth dimension of data and information to the folds. My new works have increasingly progressed into these multi-dimensional zones.