The Art of the Crease

All mathematicians need to work their magic is a pen and paper. Take away the pen and you get Dr. Robert J. Lang, a pioneer in the field of math-infused origami. If you didn’t know such a field existed, wait till you see his dinosaur skeletons with full sets of bones and teeth, or his 16-foot prehistoric bird, or any of his other plants, mammals, mollusks, insects, and birds — Lang has done just about everything. He’s kind of a star. His Maine lobster is genius. Back to the field of math-infused origami: It’s bigger than you think, with cadres of degree-toting scientists creating miracles out of simple sheets of paper, 10 of whom are captured brilliantly in Between the Folds, Vanessa Gould’s award-winning documentary about the new origami. These people are smart, they think deeply about complex principles — imagine what they can do with a piece of paper. Scientists being scientists, they also cannot help but imagine other uses for origami, such as airbag folding, packing for the Space Shuttle, even studying protein folding. “Origami is a great way to get your hands dirty with math,” one says. After the screening, paper artists Chris Palmer, Michael LaFosse, and Richard Alexander do live origami, and Gould and producer Sally Rosenthal discuss the film.
Sun., Oct. 18, 2 p.m., 2009

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