(San Francisco, CA)—When you look at a piece of paper, what do you see? If your answer is a flat, two-dimensional square, then BETWEEN THE FOLDS will astound you. Blurring the mysterious lines between art, science, sculpture and math, the film is an exhilarating adventure into origami, or paper folding, featuring works of art whose emotional expressiveness and engineering complexity defy logic. Just as Michelangelo might have seen a statue standing frozen inside a block of marble, the eccentric artists and scientists in BETWEEN THE FOLDS envision the three-dimensional possibilities of paper, and, as if by alchemy, change the mundane into the poetic and magical—all without scissors, tape or no glue. Ultimately, the medium of paper folding itself—a blank, uncut square—emerges as a resounding metaphor for the creative potential in us all.
Directed, written and produced by Vanessa Gould, BETWEEN THE FOLDS will premiere on Tuesday, December 8, at 10pm (check local listings) on the PBS series Independent Lens.
BETWEEN THE FOLDS chronicles ten people whose lives have been transformed by paper folding. From artists to physicists to educators, many have abandoned careers and hard-earned graduate degrees—all to forge unconventional lives as modern-day paper folders.
While they may have come to origami through different experiences and for a variety of reasons, common threads emerge; paper folding consumes them, they talk about it in musical terms and many of these provocative and highly intelligent people practice paper folding because, well, it’s fun!
The film opens with three of the world's foremost origami artists—a former sculptor in France folding caricatures rivaling the figures of Daumier and Picasso; a hyperrealist who walked away from a successful physics career to challenge the physics of a folded square instead; and an artisanal papermaker who folds impressionistic creations from the very same medium he makes from scratch.
However, as the film progresses, the artists become less conventional, and the post-modern concepts of abstraction, minimalism, deconstruction, process and empiricism take root —mirroring modern art itself. Abstract artists emerge with a greater emphasis on process and concept, rattling the fundamental roots of realism that have long dominated traditional paper folding. Eventually science emerges as another front in the exploration of folded paper—featuring advanced mathematicians and a remarkable scientist from the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT who won the MacArthur “Genius” Award for his computational origami research.
While debates arise on issues of technique, symbolism and purpose, the film ultimately culminates with the notion that art and science are two different interpretations of the very same world around us.
To learn more about the film and the issues involved with it, visit the companion site for BETWEEN THE FOLDS at www.pbs.org/between-the-folds. Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section where viewers can share their ideas and opinions.
Participants (in alphabetical order)
Dr. Erik Demaine—MIT’s youngest-ever tenured professor at the age of 20, and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow at age 22, Erik is a computer scientist and one of the world’s leading origami theorists.
Marty Demaine—Erik Demaine’s free-spirited father—a mathematician, sculptor, puzzle maker and self-taught computer scientist—who homeschooled Erik as a single parent and collaborates with him on research and creative projects.
Vincent Floderer—A master of the crumpling technique (an organic, freestyle technique of folding), Vincent works with a group of avant-garde artists in France to recreate forms often found in nature.
Miri Golan—A pioneering Israeli educator, Miri Golan has developed a curriculum to help teach geometry to Israeli and Palestinian schoolchildren using origami. She also uses the shared experience of folding as a tool to encourage peaceful and cooperative interaction amongst Israeli and Palestinian kids.
Dr. Tom Hull—A mathematics professor, Tom uses complex origami as a visual and theoretical model to teach advanced math to his college students.
Paul Jackson—A trained artist and art school instructor living in Israel, Paul applies 20th century art theory to his work in paper. (Paul is married to Miri Golan.)
Eric Joisel—A former sculptor and one of the most technically accomplished folders in the world, Frenchman Eric Joisel creates caricatures in paper rivaling the artful and expressive figures of Daumier and Picasso.
Michael LaFosse—One of only a few handmade origami paper makers in the world, Michael LaFosse folds impressionistic creations from the very same medium he makes from scratch.
Dr. Robert J. Lang—An origami “hyperrealist,” Dr. Lang walked away from a successful physics career to challenge (literally) the physics of a folded square instead.
Chris K. Palmer—A material artist with a masterful understanding of patterns and geometry, Chris folds paper into shockingly complex geometric arrays while also experimenting with the interaction of light and movement in the paper.
Akira Yoshizawa—Considered the father of modern origami, Yoshizawa sensei was a pioneer in bringing artfulness and expressivity to a medium that had been formerly thought to be just simple craft.
About the Filmmaker
Vanessa Gould (Director and Producer) has studied a mix of science, art, theory, math and design over the past two decades, including architecture and astrophysics at Columbia and music at the New England Conservatory. BETWEEN THE FOLDS was a project born of great admiration for the artists and scientists working in paper, and the belief that their remarkable work should be documented and shared. She is also a pianist and painter. BETWEEN THE FOLDS is her first film.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history. Presented by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the series is supported by interactive companion websites and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Further information about the series is available at www.pbs.org/independentlens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen.
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