Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Between the Folds"

It's always been my opinion that it's interesting and enlightening to watch someone skillfully perform a task or discuss a topic about which they're incredibly passionate (this could be anything from religion to music to an animatronic band- as seen in the documentary The Rock-afire Explosion). It's also always been my opinion that art and science are (regrettably) typically thought of as distinct entities; though in watching Between the Folds, the line between art and science blended to the point that I couldn't see it anymore. Seeing math applied to origami to create such lifelike forms (an alligator, a scorpion, gnomes surrounding a tree) left me amazed.
 Though two thoughts in particular stood out to me. The first was at the beginning of the documentary; a man (whose name I unfortunately cannot remember) said that, in the same way that forms in origami are created by folding paper, everything in the universe- from DNA to the billions and billions of galaxies in space- is merely the product of folding matter. (I like this metaphor quite a bit. It effortlessly ties together the art form and the rest of the universe; a connection that, I feel, is becoming increasingly lost).
 The second thought was expressed by the same man. He was explaining that the quality of any given piece of representational origami isn't necessarily reflected by how closely it resembles its subject. He raised the question, "Why is an elephant with four legs better than an elephant with three legs?" This question really forced me to rethink what I consider "art." (Several days earlier, I had ranted in the museum with a friend about how pretentious I find a lot of modern art to be. The impetus for this rant was seeing a canvas covered in eggshells, black paint and bacon grease) I asked myself, "Is the quality of a given portrait reflected by how closely it resembles a recognizable form?" And, in spite of how much I agreed with the origami artist mentioned above, I feel that my answer, as well as anybody's answer, was, is, and always will be irrelevant. It's irrelevant because art, no matter the medium, isn't about answering anything. It's about inviting the viewer to ask questions not only about the subject matter depicted therein, but about themselves as a reflection of the piece.