Economy of Folds


In Between the Folds, Vanessa Gould’s beautiful and compelling documentary, origami is the common thread running through the lives of artists, mathematicians, and scientists lured away from former successful careers by paper folding. Layer by layer, each person’s unique aesthetic unfolds as they describe how their philosophy shapes their craft. The global paper folding community includes artists from (but not limited to) Japan, Vietnam, the United States, Israel, and France.

The artists’ diversity of character offers fresh perspectives on how art mirrors life. In the director’s own words, “We knew the project’s central themes would speak to different people in different ways, as any film about ideas should.” The film presents the art of origami as inherently interdisciplinary and, therefore, relevant to both left- and right-brained audiences.

Chris Palmer

Paper Sculpture by Chris K. Palmer
Experimenting With Movement and Light

The layers of Gould’s film bring to mind Matryoshka, or Russian nesting dolls, with the first and largest doll represents the most ornate origami. As each subsequent delicate figure is released, they become simpler and smaller. From Dr. Robert Lang’s highly “mathematical” insects to Paul Jackson, who asks, “What can you do with a single fold?” the origamists explore just how many folds they need to communicate their messages.The last little Matryoshka doll, an uncomplicated version of the first, stands alone presenting the underlying theme, simplicity, finally exposed.

In a sense, all of the artists featured in the film have arrived at the realization that their work can be complex in its simplicity, often deliberating over what to leave out of their work as much as what to leave in. They have simplified their lives and their work by stepping away from established careers to search for something closer to the uncarved.

Human Figures by Giang Dinh

Human Figures by Giang Dinh

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