Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Importance of Rats

Sleeping Cat
The fourth Israeli Origami Convention ended a couple of days ago. Since the guest of honor was Eric Joisel, I though it was time to write down something I've been thinking for a while.

Eric is famous for saying "If anyone can do it, it ain't art". This is very distinctive in his later works. As he told us during the convention, he spent nearly 35 years perfecting his art to reach his goal of folding human figures. It began, as he said, from folding traditional style - clear crease patterns and technical folding. From there, he explored the 3D folds, for which his masks are most famous. Only recently was he able to combine the two to reach his current masterpieces.

And that's where the importance of rats comes in. No, not this kind, and not even this. I'm talking about RAT folds. A RAT fold is a fold whose diagram has text below it saying: "Fold right about there". For many years I held rat folds in the greatest contempt. But as I age, I have come to appreciate their importance. If anyone can do a fold, it ain't art. And some rat folds only work out in the hands of a master.

A sidestep. Two prominent Japanese folders - Satoshi Kamiya and Hojyo Takashi. I've folded models from both authors, including from crease-patterns. The differences are amazing. When collapsing a model by Satoshi, we have a nearly complete piece of art. All the finishing touches are built into the crease pattern (see his unicorn, for example). With Takashi, it is quite a different matter. Folding the crease pattern is the easy part (which doesn't imply its easy). It is only half the work. This is were Takashi is a true artist - going from a base to an amazing model is not something everyone can replicate. Few people can do it well. It's art.

Now, I think Satoshi is an artist as well. There's been a recent surge of new designers over the past couple of years, and they have only shown that Satoshi's art is in the design itself, not just his incredible folding skills. His crease patterns are elegant, whereas nearly all of those created by the new stars are cumbersome. No one can design crease patterns like Satoshi.

And that's art, just of a different kind.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Blogging 101

At 27, I'm an old man.

I guess I've been living under a rock or something - I have no idea what's "hot" in technology these days. I'm new to blogging. I only have a general idea what the whole RSS thing is and I don't know what technorati is. I barely even have a facebook account.

Now, this is a problem for me. I program in c for a living. I like c. I've been programming in it for over 10 years. And I recently found out that people don't really program in c anymore. Now this didn't surprise me. I knew that. I was surprised, however, that people don't even program in C++ anymore. They program in Java or .NET. This really blew me away.

I'm taking an advanced course in Object Oriented Design. You know - design-patterns, AOP, UML, etc. It's been a real eye opener into just how far removed I am from what's been groovy since, well, I was 18 years old. I really am old.

And now I'm writing a blog. I have a lot of catching up to do. Not just in learning what a trackback is, but also in what tools to use. Tools are important. Very important. I think I'll probably have to write more about that later on, but for the time being, I need to find myself some good tools to help in blogging.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Favorite Origami Books

  1. Origami Design Secrets / Robert J. Lang - This book, by retired laser physicist and origami master, describes the methods developed over the last couple of decades in origami design. It provides a good understanding of how modern, complex origami models are created. Unlike most origami books, it contains mostly text and is not an easy read. There is also an appendix detailing the mathematics behind some of the methods, mostly from the realm of Graph Theory. It is a treasure in understanding crease-patterns. See Gilad Aharoni's book review.
  2. Origami for the Connoisseur / Kunihiko Kasahara, Toshie Takahma - A classic book. It includes many classical models, lots of mathematical insights and covers a broad range of origami fields - modules, geometrical, figural, technical, etc. See Gilad Aharoni's book review.
  3. Animal Origami for the Enthusiast / John Montrol - One of Montrol's earlier books (circa 1985), it has 25 models which embody the magic origami held for me as a child. It is a wonder of what can be achieved using simple folding techniques. The folding sequences are natural and beautiful all by themselves. See Gilad Aharoni's book review.
  4. Origami to Astonish and Amuse / Jeremy Shafer - This book contains a lot of models, unique in their wacky, unconventional character. It is a must. See Gilad Aharoni's book review.