TEDxPhoenix 2010 Goran Konjevod – Organic Origami

TEDxPhoenix 2010 Goran Konjevod – Organic Origami


Translator: Sanja Srbljnović Čuček
Reviewer: Tanya Cushman And so, origami. So you’ve probably seen a paper crane, maybe even folded one – that’s traditional origami. One square sheet of paper, no cuts. But these rules are really kind of modern. A lot of traditional models do use cuts. They do use multiple sheets of paper. And so, I’d like to think of these as more of a choice you make
when you choose your medium as an artist. What do you use? If you use folding, then folding
is what you want to do. If you have to cut – well, maybe if you really need to – fine. But it’s more of a choice, not a rule. Having said that, there’s a lot more than a crane
in modern origami. This is a mythological Eastern dragon that not only has
an incredibly intricate head but more than 1,000 scales on its body. It’s folded from a single
square sheet of paper, no cutting. Here’s a model that shows a giant squid
attacking a three-masted ship. The squid and the ship are both folded
from the same square sheet of paper, no cutting. The sea, that patch of water,
that’s a separate sheet. So sometimes you need two sheets
to show what you really want to show. And here’s the last example
of what I want to call modern origami. Éric Joisel’s “Three [Kings],” each figure folded
from an individual sheet of paper, so all of their features – including their armor,
clothing, their weapons – made from a single sheet. Three sheets –
one for each of the warriors. Sadly, Éric Joisel passed away
just about a month ago. So, with these limited means, one single square of paper, what is possible? Having seen that, you’d say,
“Well, probably everything is possible.” And that can be proven mathematically. Now, mathematicians will write
this theorem down in a different form, but what it says, essentially,
is anything, every shape, can be folded. However, often,
as mathematical theorems go, it doesn’t really tell you how to do it. So, what you want – (Laughter) What you want is a design technique, what you want is a system
that will allow you to fold what you want. And there are several of those,
and they’re incredibly well-developed. Box pleating started back in the ’60s, and as its name might indicate, it allows you to fold boxes,
three-dimensional shapes. So here’s a train,
a locomotive and two cars, folded from a single rectangle. If it was a longer rectangle,
you could fold as many cars as you wanted. It wouldn’t get
any more complicated, really, except that it would take more time. Tree design is something
that’s a little harder to explain, but it’s easy enough
to be explained to a computer. It would take a little longer
to go through the details, but in principle, it’s like saying, “Here’s a stick figure. Now, computer, go away and calculate
how I fold this stick figure.” So you can design a human being by saying, “Well, here’s what I need: my legs to be long – how long? –
a trunk, the two arms and the head,” and the computer will do its calculations and tell you where to put folds
on a sheet of paper so that when you fold it up,
you get a stick figure. Still you have to go from the stick figure
to an actual figure resembling something. So there’s a lot more involved
than just the computer part, but it can be programmed, and has been. Another design technique
is to develop flat patterns. And it’s usually called tessellations because mathematicians call patterns that can be repeated infinitely
over a plane, tessellations. This dates back to the ’60s as well. Here’s Ron Resch, an engineer who developed
some very interesting tessellations. The one he shows – in fact,
if I had a sheet of paper folded that way, I could stand on it. It would not collapse
under my own weight. It works as a corrugation also, but I’ll show you
some more tessellations later. And then finally, there’s a very strange
technique called crumpling, which is what the word means. You take a sheet of paper,
you crumple it up, you open it up, you crumple it up again, and then you go through
a lot of these phases. But if you do them correctly,
you can design things using it. So here’s a tree,
designed using crumpling. It started as a square sheet of paper. There are no cuts or tears
made in that sheet, so I could take it and unfold it. But having seen all that, you could say, well,
What else is there to do? These people have done everything. So one way to approach it is to say, “Well, maybe if I limited
my means even more and used just a very simple type of fold, maybe just the simplest things possible. Maybe just pleats. So, what can you do with pleats? That’s not how I started
thinking about it. I started thinking about it because I saw
a photograph of something in a book, and it was described
by a caption that says, basically, “Make a pleat, make a pleat,
make a pleat, make a pleat and so on, and then the paper curves
under its own tension.” So I tried that, and interestingly enough, I got something completely different. And so I set it aside. I thought, well, he had the right paper;
I didn’t have the right paper. So that’s all there is to it. But I’d come back to it
every once in a while, and after about 10 years, I realized that there were
two folds missing from this, and really, I had the thing
there all along. It’s just that I’d forgotten
or didn’t know that I was supposed to make
two extra folds that would lock the paper. So this is the same thing, except having been locked,
it learned what shape I wanted it to be, and so it won’t go back. So here’s the one I got
following the instructions, and here’s the actual thing
that was there in the book. Once you know how to make one, you can make multiple copies
from the same sheet of paper. So repetition – although you’re folding
them all simultaneously – so it’s not really repetition. You can rearrange them. If you rearrange them correctly,
there are no more curves, only straight lines, even though
you fold straight lines all along. So you can rearrange them
in multiple ways, and then you can get things
that are not quite as symmetric anymore. So this one curves
in different directions. But being a mathematician, I say, well, this is really
flat folds I’m making. So this should be flat when it’s done. And I’m telling you, you’re really all suffering
from poor vision and a trick of the light, because this is a square, it’s flat, except it wants to curve. So you can do more than this. You can combine two waves
on the same sheet – you get a double wave. Or you can make something else, and here’s a detail. And just to give you
an idea of the scale, here’s the real thing. Now, if you start with
a slightly different basic fold – the basic folds for this
were all pleats, simple pleats. If you start with a slightly
more complicated pleat, this is what you get, and it may
remind you of the basic shape, but when you turn it over,
it’s much more interesting. And then you can use
this modified basic shape to create special effects
such as a weave pattern. This is not actually woven. This is a square sheet
of paper, folded up, and if you zoom in, you can see
that the weaves are really suggested by, again, by an inability to see correctly
and to see all the details. They behave like weaves,
but they’re not really woven. Or you can create patterns
within patterns. So this is a single sheet of paper,
square, complete with balls. Or you can go on and try to pull out
some of the pleats and create shapes that indicate
or illustrate other things. So, there’s a very simple basic thing you do – you just have to repeat it
sufficiently many times; it becomes interesting. Well, if you repeat it in correct order, and then these pleats
create tension in the sheet. The nicest thing about it
is the accuracy is not really crucial. You can make mistakes, and still things come out
looking correctly. And, actually the best of all,
is you don’t have to unfold anything. A lot of origami books will tell you, “Make all these steps,
then unfold back to square one, then refold in a different way, then unfold again and then refold.” Well, you don’t have to do
any unfolding here, and so you don’t have to use paper; you can use metal to fold instead. Thank you! (Applause)

1 thought on “TEDxPhoenix 2010 Goran Konjevod – Organic Origami

  1. Great talk! I absolutely love Goran's work!
    It's a huge shame the whole talk isn't on this video, it feels like it was cut off just as he was getting started!

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