• "I Have Truly Found Paradise" by sophomore Yeu-whai K. Lin, which uses 98 separate pieces of paper, won the award for most creative composition in the origami competition.

    Photo / ERIK DEMAINE

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Students don't fold under pressure in contest, but just for the fun of it

"I Have Truly Found Paradise" by sophomore Yeu-whai K. Lin, which uses 98 separate pieces of paper, won the award for most creative composition in the origami competition.


MIT students don't all dream of a paperless society, as a recent origami competition proved.

Some of the competitors coaxed their fingers to remember origami creations they'd learned years before. Some studied books of intricate figures to recreate step-by-step illustrations. And some devised their own, using as many as 98 pieces of paper in a single entry without resorting to the use of glue or tape.

Seven students brought 15 origami sculptures for consideration in a juried exhibition of the art form, which uses only folding techniques.

Although folding can be considered as taboo as spindling and mutilating, an exhibit of the works on view at the Office of the Arts in Room E15-205 proves that this activity can be elevated to the highest form of art.

The jury--five MIT affiliates or alumni with more than 100 years of cumulative origami credits--presented 12 awards in categories such as most creative composition, best technical folding and best use of material.

Entries ranged from a raccoon by graduate student Michael Bosse (Best Technical Folding/Representational) to a DNA model by sophomore Albert Su (Best Technical Folding/Abstract). Graduate student Wesley Andrés Watters Farfán produced a trilobite (Honorable Mention) while sophomore Yeu-whai K. Lin created the word "MIT" with the "I" designated by a flower (Most Creative Composition).

"I was surprised by the diversity of different styles of origami," said judge Martin Demaine, visiting scientist in the Lab for Computer Science. "One aspect that interested me is that there is a strong geometric represention in the exhibition," said Demaine, who studies folding problems and algorithmic art.

Sponsored by the Office of the Arts/Special Programs, the MIT Japan Program and the office of Erik Demaine, the competition was staged to promote interest in origami in the MIT community and to showcase student work. Erik Demaine, Martin's son, is an assistant professor in electrical engineering and computer science. A reception for an exhibit of the selected works will be held on Friday, Feb. 28 from 4-6 p.m. in the Office of the Arts. They will remain on view on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May 15.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 26, 2003.


Topics: Mathematics, Arts, Contests and academic competitions

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