Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mixed Signals

People have different ways of self-expression. Some people express themselves through poetry, dance, music, theater. I have, strangely enough, found a great outlet in folding paper.

This semester, I am taking a course in comparative literature titled "Literature of the Self". We were recently given an assignment to produce an autobiographical work. I wanted to express a particular sentiment, and I thought, What better way to put my thoughts to paper (I couldn't help myself) than by making a few expressive paper sculptures. I am not a poet or a dancer, but my medium can be just as effective in conveying some messages.

This blog is by no means turning into an artsy experimental statement. I do not want to scare my readers away with this pedantic blurb (I'm just trying to survive grad school), but I thought I can probably be forgiven one idiosyncratic post.

I have been thinking for a while now of how many mixed signals we receive in our day-to-day existence. People around us who are not forthcoming and honest, always trying to be politically correct and polite when they actually just want to shout at you, people who can't make up their minds about what they want. I don't know about you, but sometimes it makes me sick. Sometimes you can't even tell if a smile is just a smile, or an attempt to hide some ill-feeling. There's nothing worse than hypocrisy, and I have been told that I do not pick up on the mixed signals people sometimes send off. I am apparently very bad at decoding friendliness and understanding what people are really feeling when they are trying very hard to hide it. Silly me. Why can't people just say what they mean? I could probably do very well living in a cave somewhere away from people. But there wouldn't be any paper, and I would soon get bored.

My frustration with these things found an outlet in a particular form of origami. Kusudama is an ancient practice, the history of which I will let you read about on your own. It is a modular form, each model requiring several pieces, or modules, that fit together in perfect geometrical harmony to create a whole. The juxtaposition of the various pieces here illustrates perfectly whatever I was blabbing about earlier. People can be layered, just like the models I am about to show you; they can be multifaceted, and show different faces at different times. They are sometimes beautiful and soft, and sometimes very ugly and sharp. And if my little experiment here has failed in all other regards, the hours of work that went into the making these models will have at least served as a distraction from my troubles and woes.

Without further ado, and to end this endless somber blurb (which you can just forget about in a minute), I will leave you to enjoy these beautiful models to which I do not do justice.

Kusudama by Nina Ostrun
6 modules

Origami Cuboctahedron from Herman van Goubergen's Curler Units
12 modules

Kusudama Star Holes by Francesco Mancini
30 modules

 Kusudama UVWXYZ by Francesco Mancini
30 modules

Revealed Flower by Valentina Gonchar
90 modules


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