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SLOMA screens PBS documentary about origami, Between the Folds


No matter where you went to school as a kid, you more than likely encountered origami. Whether it was building leapfrogs for fun or cranking out 1,000 paper cranes in a factory-like fashion for a very off-kilter teacher who shall remain nameless, folding paper was commonplace around the ages of hot lunches and watching Spongebob Squarepants. Then, for most, you move on, only indulging in paper folding during the blander moments of college-level calculus. However, for a select few artists, scientists, and overall enthusiasts, origami is a portal to understanding patterns, rules, and form. The PBS documentary Between the Folds (2008) follows ten of these people, and will be featured at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art as part of its ongoing film screening series.

The history of origami extends back hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the mid-20th century when innovators like Akira Yoshizawa introduced intricate patterns, a diagramming system, and the technique of wet folding that the practice of origami as both science and art took off. Director Vanessa Gould interviews the diverse array of those inspired by Yoshizawa’s work, as they explain their process, their approach, and their masterful craftsmanship. Engineers like Robert Lang and Erik Demaine discuss the mathematical properties of origami, the integration of it with computer programming, and the widespread applications of its patterns, from potential protein manipulation to airbag design. Artists like Eric Joisel, a Frenchman who has been making meticulous, fairy-tale-like constructions of humans and animals for the past 30 years, and Michael LaFosse, who handcrafts his own paper, ruminate about the possibilities of form and animation while mathematicians likes Tom Hull and Miri Golan showcase the educational benefits of using origami to teach math in a more creative and interactive manner. It’s all thoroughly enlightening and entertaining. For a film about paper, Gould and her subjects transform what is a seemingly flat and dull medium into a fascinating conversation about the intersection between science and art.

Between the Folds will screen at SLOMA on Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. There will be a special introduction by Jared Pfeiffer, a ceramics instructor at Cuesta College, whose work was recently featured at the museum in May. Tickets are $5 for members, and $7 for the general public, with a suggested donation. SLOMA is located at 1010 Broad St., and for more information, call 543-8562.

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