Orikane Guest Interview With Robert J.Lang
Dr. Robert J. Lang is an American physicist and one of the foremost origami artists and theorists in the world. Robert is well known for his complex and elegant designs, and most notably of his insect and animal folds which are truly remarkable. Robert has long been a student of the mathematics of origami and of using computers to study the theories behind it and to investigate algorithms for origami design. With 9 books published Robert Lang is a true leader in the world of Origami and we are truly honored to ask Robert a few questions. Before we begin you may enjoy watching this video.
1)Your presentation on Ted.com called ‘Flapping Birds and Space Telescopes’ is not only fascinating, incredibly entertaining but also very thought provoking. During your presentation you mentioned that Origami has become an art form, and explain how we now can use mathematical principles in order to create the most amazing folds. As technology is getting more and more advanced everyday, do you think we are still in our infancy as to what can be achieved with a simple sheet of paper?
I would say that we’ve left infancy, and we’re now in adolescence. We have these wonderful tools for design, but we’re still learning how to use them properly, and we’re still exploring what we can accomplish with them.
2) You also say in your presentation that Origami revolves around Crease Patterns which are the underlying blueprint of an Origami
figure. A crease pattern has to obey four simple rules, 1) 2- Colorability, 2) Mountain Valley Counting 3) Angles around a vertex and finally 4) Layer Ordering.
Well, I need to point out a big caveat: those rules apply only to flat-foldable origami (things that can be pressed flat), and their only an approximation of the real world — they assume that the paper has no thickness, for example.
Nevertheless, it’s a pretty good approximation of the real world and so one can use those rules (or rather, design rules that are based upon these rules) usefully to create beautiful origami — even if it uses paper of finite thickness, or figures that don’t fold flat.
3) If you are starting out all over again and learning Origami, how would you go about it ? For example Would you start on the crease pattern, or would you start by making some folds and then refine what you have and then create a crease pattern to refine your design?
I think everyone should still start by folding origami from instructions; it builds an intuition of the way paper behaves and an intuition of the limits that are described by geometric ideas. But once you’ve built that intuition with practice, then I think it’s worthwhile to start pulling models apart and studying their crease patterns, and then use those ideas to design one’s own crease patterns.
When I design an origami figure, in most cases, I *start* with the crease pattern, designing the pattern first, and then folding. But as I fold, ideas will occur to me to incorporate into the folding, and then I go back and incorporate those ideas into the crease pattern. So there’s a give-and-take between working with the CP and hands-on folding.
4) Like John Montroll you were also introduced to Origami at the age of six, but in your case by a teacher who had exhausted other methods of keeping you entertained in the classroom. Why do you think, that at this early age Origami inspired you so much.
Origami was a way of making inexpensive and inexhaustible toys with cheap, easily-available materials — scrap paper. I still derive pleasure from the “something-from-nothing” aspect of origami.
5) We think it is brilliant and very inspiring that you specialize in finding real-world applications from air bags to telescopes using the various theories of origami that you have developed. A part from the pre-mentioned what other problems have you solved using these theories?
I’ve consulted on several other design projects, including furniture, containers, and a computer bag a few years ago.
6) Are you working on anything at the moment that you would like to
share with us?
Well, earlier today I finished a new version of a Koi — based on the one in ODS, but with some changes to the features, and a design that makes it amenable to folding from really nice wet-folding paper. My next big folding project will be a life-size peregrine falcon for a display in San Jose.
7 ) Have you ever left a money fold as a tip, if so what did you make and where did you leave it.
I leave a lot of money folds as tips at the local diner, where one of the waitresses has now built up a collection of things I’ve left her. Some of them are designs I’d done before, some are things I make up on the spot. The 3$ flower on my website was one that I made up on the spot.
Thank you Robert for taking time out to answer some of our questions and we look forward to seeing more of your folds and technological breakthroughs in the near future.
Make sure to visit Roberts website here
Some of Robert’s books are available on Amazon Here
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