Art from code - Generator.x
Generator.x is a conference and exhibition examining the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design. [Read more...]
Tag: origami

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Eric Gjerde of Origami Tessellations recently Flickr'ed some wonderful images of Ron Resch, computer graphics pioneer, mathematician and origami innovator. His credits include patents for “self-supporting structural units” using tessellation techniques, as well as “geometric designs” (structures for spaceships) for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

Of the many pioneering projects Resch was involved in, the 1974 Vegreville Pysanka is one of the most spectacular. A pysanka is a Ukrainian Easter Egg, decorated with intricate patterns that are often geometrical in nature. Using computer graphics techniques that were then cutting edge, Resch designed and built a giant pysanka sculpture using tiling techniques to create both structural integrity and geometric visuals. The photo shown above top left shows the sculpture being dedicated by Queen Elisabeth II.

Known also under the moniker “World’s Largest Easter Egg”, the Vegreville Pysanka is a wonder of mathematics. It is also considered the first-ever physical structure to be constructed entirely based on computer-aided geometry. Resch built it using principles he had pioneered in paper-folding experiments, techniques he also intended to be used for constructing larger structures. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes are probably better known, but Resch’s ideas of folding structures open the door for more geometric wonders.

Be sure to read Eric Gjerde’s post about Ron Resch over on Origami Tessellations. Pictures from Ron Resch home page and Flickr.


Nicholas Rougeux: MengermaniaLevel 3 / Level 4 at 0.25%

Nicholas Rougeux likes Menger sponges. You know, the classic fractal shape created by Karl Menger, the one that gains an infinitely large surface area as it is iterated. The sponge has long been a favorite with computer graphics enthusiasts, but Rougeux does them one better. He builds Menger sponges as Origami sculptures using index cards.

Back in 2003 Rougeux built a level 3 sponge with over 66 thousand units (see image), taking over 7 months. This time he plans to build a level 4 version, a substantially more ambitious project that will entail 1.2 million units. So far he is at 0.29%, with 3774 units built. You can follow his progress and see more images over at Mengermania.

The Mengermania site also has a handy About section, giving more details about the sponge, as well as instructions about how to build one yourself. Definitely a way of impressing your friends. After all, the final result is very attractive.

Jonathan McCabe: The Origami Butterfly Method

Jonathan McCabe: The Origami Butterfly Method

Last week I opened an exhibition by Canberra artist Jonathan McCabe – The Origami Butterfly Method. The show presents a family of images made with a supremely elegant – and as far as I know original – generative technique. The Method goes something like this. Imagine a square sheet of paper, and mark a dot somewhere on it and record its position. Fold the paper along a random axis, and watch where the dot ends up, recording this position. Repeat this thirty-two times. Use a weighted average of that list of points to determine the colour (or at least hue and brightness) of that original point. Now repeat, using the same folds, for as many points on the square as you like (say, several million). What I love about this is that despite the intensely tactile quality of the surfaces, these images have no “thing” to them: they’re visualisations of transformations of space – traces of topological history. This generative technique has lots of neat features. It’s resolution-independent (you can sample as many points as you like), the procedure is simple and compact (32 folds) and because it’s a sequence, it’s richly connected with image structure: the first fold is the most significant in controlling macro-structure, and the last fold influences the smallest level of detail. McCabe uses genetic algorithms to search and “optimise” the space of possible fold sequences / images. Oh and also, he’s making animations out of them. In this exhibition McCabe printed high-res images onto 72cm square canvases, in (very affordable) editions of one. More than half this show at The Front gallery, Lyneham, sold on the opening night.

McCabe isn’t plugged in to the generative arts scene – I had to ask him to make this site so I could write this post. Maybe that’s part of the reason his work seems so fresh – he’s been refining these techniques by himself for quite a while. After seeing this show I think the work could do with some attention: it’s got “retinality” to burn but underneath that is a generative technique that is poetic in itself.


Just saw this from a link left by Jeremy Abbett of Truth Dare Double Dare. Hamburg-based Ho-Lee Papierarbeiten (”paper works”) makes paper lamps through a folding process. While connections between generative art and origami could be made, I am first and foremost struck by the simple yet powerful abstract shapes of these lamps. They’re very Buckminster Fuller crossed with nonchalant playboy Steve McQueen.

The web site (lusciously furnished by Jeremy & Co) doesn’t really provide much info, but the images are amazing.