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"Natural Cycles," by Erik and Martin Demaine (Image 1)


"Natural Cycles," by Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine

"Natural Cycles" (2009), by Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine. Elephant hide paper, 9"9"9" high.

Paper folds itself into a natural equilibrium form depending on its creases. These equilibria are poorly understood, especially for curved creases. Erik Demaine, a professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an artist, and his father Martin Demaine, an artist with an interest in computer science, are exploring what shapes are possible in this genre of self-folding origami, with applications to deployable structures, manufacturing, and self-assembly. This transformation of flat paper into swirling surfaces creates sculpture that feels alive.

The National Science Foundation has been supporting Demaine's research for more than a decade. In 2004, Demaine won a $400,000 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award (grant CCF 03-47777) for his work in geometric folding algorithms.

This sculpture is one of three curved-crease sculptures that are part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's permanent collection. The sculptures debuted at the "40 under 40: Craft Futures" exhibition at the Renwick Gallery, which is running from July 20, 2012 to Feb. 3, 2013, in Washington, D.C. It was also part of the Exhibition of Mathematical Art at the Joint Mathematics Meetings of the American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America, Jan. 13-16, 2010, in San Francisco, Calif.

This is the first of three views of "Natural Cycles." See the next view Here. You can also view the other two sculptures in this exhibition, "Hugging Circles" and "Green Balance."

You can learn more about the Demaine's curved-creased sculptures Here. You can also read more about Eric and Martin Demaine in the NSF Discovery story Computer Scientist Turned Artist.

More About the Exhibit
The "40 under 40: Craft Futures" features 40 artists born since 1972, the year the Smithsonian American Art Museum's contemporary craft and decorative arts program was established at its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery. The exhibition investigates evolving notions of craft within traditional media such as ceramics and metalwork, as well as in fields as varied as sculpture, industrial design, installation art, fashion design, sustainable manufacturing, and mathematics. The range of disciplines represented illustrates new avenues for the handmade in contemporary culture.

All of the artworks selected for display in the exhibition were created since Sept. 11, 2001. This new work reflects the changed world that exists today, which poses new challenges and considerations for artists. These 40 artists are united by philosophies for living differently in modern society with an emphasis on sustainability, a return to valuing the hand-made and what it means to live in a state of persistent conflict and unease.

The exhibit was organized by Nicholas R. Bell, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator of American Craft and Decorative Art at the Renwick Gallery. To learn more, visit the exhibition's website. (Date of Image: 2009-2011)

Credit: Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine, MIT

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