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.


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