Friday, November 30, 2012

Origami by Phillip Chapman-Bell

Phillip Chapman-Bell is an origami artist hailing from Northampton, Massachusetts, "where the coffee is strong and so are the women," quoted from a Northampton parking garage sign. Chapman-Bell's origami focuses less on tessellations and is more inspired by towers, goblets, bowls, and flutes, but isn't wary of natural shapes like shells and flowers. He is a master with paper pleating, and likes to incorporate photographs and text in these pleats. A favorite of mine that he loaned to the Jaffe Center is a vase-shaped structure titled No, Not That One, where he incorporates a section of John Keats poem Ode on Melancholy into the piece. 

Chapman-Bell has a wit and playfulness to him that is apparent in his work. He states, "I'm an origami designer and human resources drudge living in Massachusetts. Aside from origami, my interests include udon noodles, 18th century novels, regular expressions, neo-English verse and smiting Republicans with blunt objects and/or witty satire.

(Clarification: the last item refers to a John Hopkins stud which found that four out of five forensic pathologists could not distinguish my prose style from a croquet mallet. I can't say that I agree with their research method- logical regression, indeed-but what can one do? They're the ones with the DOD grant money)

And I probably should mention my deep and abiding enthusiasm for open source origami. Clever catchphrase du jour: It isn't origami until you share it."

No, Not That One
And sharing he does. Chapman-Bell has over 600 photos of his work on the origami site Curved Folding, and it's all fantastic. Also, check out his blog, The Fitful Flog.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Origami by Matt Shlian

Photo by Matt Shlian
Matt Shlian is one of the origami artists that have loaned their work to the JCBA for our Born from Folding exhibit. Of all the artists from the exhibit, Shlian is probably the most in tune with the rest of the Jaffe Center. While Shlian does create origami tessellations and sculptures, he also creates pieces that require manipulation by the user, much like a book. For those who have been to the JCBA, his work is reminiscent of the slinky book by Susan Joy Share. The amazing thing about these metamorphic pieces is that they are still made with one sheet of paper.

Shlian, like many of the artists in the exhibit, is a mathematician and artist, making him a modern renaissance man. He states, "as a paper engineer, my work is rooted in print media, book arts, and commercial design. Beginning with an initial fold, a single action causes a transfer of energy to subsequent folds, which ultimately manifest in drawings and three-dimensional forms.

I use my engineering skills to create kinetic sculpture, which has lead to collaborations with scientists at the University of Michigan. We work at a nanoscale, translating paper structures into micro folds. Our investigations extend to visualizing cellular division and solar cell development.

Researchers see paper engineering as a metaphor for scientific principles; I see their inquiry as a basis for artistic exploration. In my studio, I am collaborator, explorer, and scientist. I begin with a system of folding and at a particular moment, the materials take over. Guided by wonder, my work is made because I cannot visualize its final realization; in this way I come to understanding through curiosity."

Shlian loaned to the JCBA one of his most captivating pieces, Unlean Against Our Heart. The piece opens out into a ridged arch that folds in itself when the covers rotate. When have you even seen a sheet of paper rotate and pulsate at the same it.