I recently watched a program on TV entitled “Beautiful Equations”. In it, an artist with almost zero mathematical knowledge investigated some of the key mathematical formulae of the past few hundred years. A theme that emerged was that the simpler and more elegant a formula was, the more beauty it had, and that a simple, beautiful solution was more likely to be the one that nature used.  A classic example being Einstein’s E=mc2, which paved the way for some truly remarkable new ways to look at the world around us.

I feel there may well be a similar truth within origami. When we assess a completed model, there are several parameters we can use. Was it a clean, elegant sequence? Does the model have all the required anatomical “features”? Does it display many raw edges? Does it capture the “spirit” of the subject? Have we “forced” the paper? We each have our own criteria for “success”. However, I wonder, certainly amongst experienced folders, whether we might agree on when a model had “beauty”. Even less tangible would be concepts like “honesty” or “truth”.

Personally, I feel “truth” is to be found not only in the finished model, but also in the sequence and even in the underlying crease pattern. It may lie within the soul of the creator. Very few models achieve this ideal combination (in my opinion) but it perhaps sums up what it is I strive for in a design. I have no issue with complex designs, but there comes a point, to my eyes, where their honesty (or perhaps integrity) of a model is overtaken by the technique required to achieve the anatomical accuracy. Closed sinks, for example, are almost a violation of what the paper is willing to endure.

My thoughts aren’t entirely together on this issue, which is why this probably reads like something from “pseuds corner”, but heck, it’s New Years Eve, I thought I’d give you something to mull over 😉

5 Responses

  1. Which models in your view achieve the ideal combination? can you give us some examples?
    Happy New Year!

  2. Hoisted by my own cuckoo clock. I’ll need to think about it and get back to you 😉

    Maybe from my “collection”, in terms of getting “most from the least”, my “baby bird”, “Sue’s Flapper” and “Ali’s Dish” would probably come closest.

  3. Thanks for these examples.
    I didn’t realise the number of raw edges could be a consideration. Which way does it go though, is it a case of less is more? In theory I suppose the more displayed, the simpler the model, but surely simple can also be ‘true’ – A lot to mull here for sure!

  4. “A closed sink is an inversion of a point, but in such a way that it is not possible to open the point flat while performing the maneuver. This makes closed sinks extremely hard to perform. In fact, from a strictly mathematical viewpoint, it is impossible to perform a closed sink using a finite number of folds (and what is impossible in mathematics is usually pretty hard in reality)” —Robert J. Lang

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