Saturday, November 1, 2008

Folded structures

Folding can be an elegant production method, since it requires careful, masterful thought by the designer to decrease the used material and steps of production to get an intricate three- or even four dimensional structure out of it, without any waste material. Here are a few recent folded structures.

This is a quite Escheresque sculpture by paper engineer Kamikawa, and maybe unintentionally, but the shape he chose is quite genius too, although it is a pity that, when in closed state, it is still quite evident that the thing is not what it seems. Nevertheless, this object in closed state signifies what underlies so much of our culture and our technology; the need for love. The need to be surrounded by things that wrap you in a cozy, hot blanket and keep you safe from the full complexity of life that seems so threatening while you try to hold on to concepts like your ego, and all its material possessions it gets projected into. The need to feel special, to be paid attention to an extent that no one else is being paid attention to. The heart signifies to me most strongly than any other symbol this short-sighted, illusory, egoic approach to life. The approach of trying to crystallize our fragile concepts into our technologies, be it words, images or objects. The genius of this then, is that this directly shows the shift from a world where this is still quite an acceptable approach to one that is inherently honest, and shows that it does not work and there is an underlying complexity of life underlying everything. Once people start to see this with their whole being they transform completely, and in the end start viewing such complexity as more beautiful than the concept they had of it beforehand. We are moving to a world where everything changes faster and faster, and the only way is to gain wisdom about our evolution, so we know where to go.

Another artist to be mentioned is Ying Gao, a fashion designer who works with folded structures and pneumatic technologies to create inflatable garments. One of those garments reacts to breath, and correspondingly changes shape, so the wearer's breath is physically augmented so to become what you could call a 'sensual cyborg'. Augmentation of such subtle but immensely important processes is crucial if we want to learn about life. Nowadays people are so distracted and get so little time for self-reflection that the things that draw the least attention get paid less attention to, with as a result that we forget about more subliminal processes. Luce Irigaray wrote an entire philosophical book about how we forgot about air, for example. And this forgetting has the result that all kinds of internal tensions build up during our lives, so we either end up as a boiling barrel full of inner tensions, and denying these through a simplified, ignorant life, or the bubble bursts and we desperately start seeking for help to regain wisdom that incorporates these processes, for example through breathwork like yoga's pranayama exercises. What is so important for technology to do then, is more and more to bring these processes into our attention, and guide us with respect to them so we do not forget them, to in the end have us incorporate these processes consciously and knowledgeably into our lives.

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