If you would slowly walk past this piece, you might say it’s a trippy one. It’s spell is cast by seeming to turn itself inside out to follow your gaze. Or rather, it has two faces on the front, which are entwined symmetrically.
It’s kind of like this –
On my drawing board, its plan looks like this:
The whole piece will be folded from a single piece of printed paper. The upper part (the photo) will be printed on the front, and the pattern below will be printed on the back to guide my blade and my embossing tip. The four colored shapes only emphasize that the structure is formed of four non-overlapping domains. Each will be folded separately.
This the first kirigami that I’ve done which can be displayed in a shadow-box frame.
Breaking the smooth surface, his head pops out of an upper plane, while several cymbals pop out of others. An avenue near the top is deeply inset between arcs of step-like folds. Those arcs surround the busker and the viewer, placing us inside of a little urban niche.
All the cut lines are gentle curves, so as to emphasize the centering effect of the curvilinear perspective, itself the effect of using a wide-angle camera lens. Fold lines always need to be straight in the one-piece kirigami format.
Turning the piece vertically, you would see this:
This work is the second part of my original series (also see Airshow).
In a nearly tangible sense, these jets arise fast, high and vivid into the airspace far above a modern city. Although the original photo itself was a beautiful capture, the wonder of free flight seems amplified in the three dimensional sculpture. The third dimension has opened up a spatial fracture. The lofty but rigidly confining urban skyline very nicely offsets the wide-open, fluid domain of the airspace. The upper pictorial space is folded convex, and the lower space is folded concave, which provides an almost cinematic sense of uplift.
You can glimpse the internal design of the spaces in the left/right scan of the piece above. A vertical scan makes a different impression, almost like a spectator’s view.
Although it is usual to use right angle folds in Kirigami crafts, by using only 60 degree folds the positive spaces are nested in behind the negative foreground space. In the unmodified photo, perspective foreshortens the contrails back into the lower left. The pleating of the sky by the folding also suggests to me a visual simile for a sonic wave front being lead forward by the airplanes. Or, in a different sense, the pleating also evokes billowy cumulus clouds.
This design came to me because I was dissatisfied with the original version and had decided to try to do something different with it. There was still an unused flexibility in the paper structure, because contained in the design, there are actually two independently foldable Kirigami motifs. So, those can each be folded in two different ways.
In my first version, just below, the two Kirigami domains had been folded with the same polarity, so the jets and the skyline occupied one simple, continuous space.
Which was exactly how I saw that space in the original photo (credited below). Have I gilded a perfect lily; or has some value been added? You will decide.
When any graphic is stretched over a three-dimensional folded Kirigami form, as I enjoy doing, its basic property of being anchored upon a flat ground plane is undermined. Pure visual form is bent or ‘refracted’ by clinging to the physical lattice of linked planes. A graphic form may be fragmented by the physical form, but it is not necessarily subverted entirely. Instead, a tangible form and a graphic form can be merged in a way that develops new insight about them.
Here is a ‘popup’ base, made up of a group of five half-arches. The outer four parts intersect in the middle, where they form a secondary folding axis, upon which a fifth half-arch pops up. I’ve shone a luminous aura of concentric, circular color fields over this form. This picture shows a captured image in Adobe Illustrator, as rendered in 3D using the Origami plug-in.
Such a simple, static thing, although pleasing as such, could serve as a good base platform for something more complex. I wanted to couple a translucent graphic image to it that would cling to it very loosely and lightly. Some great potential pairings were found when I considered images created by a 20th century master graphic artist, Josef Albers.
My first piece here references Albers’ woodcut, “Embraced” (1933). Albers’ graphic art is known for implying a third dimension in subtle and ambiguous ways. He would differently shade adjacent areas within outlines, so a shaded areas could belong to more than one plane.
My second piece here references Albers’ lithograph, “Shrine” (1942).
In these Kirigamis, you as a viewer are invited to reconstruct the referenced graphic, which cannot be seen in its entirety from any single angle of view. As if refracted through prisms, the lines can variously appear both broken or continuous, depending on a specific angle of view. Albers’ consciously ambiguous shadings can still be enjoyed in the Kirigamis, but a viewer has to actively move his or her their head (or turn the piece) through a wide range of viewing angles (say, 60o horizontally by 30o vertically) to take in all of these new implications.
The animation camera does a part of this work for you here. Such optics can be sensed by viewing my animations, yet they do not give you the same perceptive experience as does active viewing.
The outer color field also shines through from within both pieces. It can be glimpsed between the slats and in the wider openings, where it blends visually with the surface color field. Like the drawn graphic, it leads the viewer to look for the blending effects as seen from different angles. It’s other role is to show a positive space inside of the form, not a shadowy void.
Albers himself was fascinated with paper folding, and he gave popular classes about it.
A technical note. I conceived this form using a program called Popup Card Studio, which I learned to use by following a series of online tutorials. I applied graphic overlays to it in Adobe Illustrator. Popup Card Studio provides a built-in tool for drawing half-arches, which are made of steps. The step risers are designed to become gradually smaller toward one side of a half-arch (two half arches are usually joined at the top to make a full arch, but not so in this construction).
I use the word “referenced” above to mean that my use of these graphics is consistent with the legal concept of “fair Use”. These pieces transform the viewer’s personal action toward and perception of those referenced graphics.
In a salute to the Armenian heritage of a clever and lovely woman, to whom my dear son, Peter, is engaged to be married, this Kirigami glows with the colors of the Flag of Armenia.
Another one, made previously, now looks subdued by comparison:
Acknowledgements The form is one of Guy Petzal’s simpler Ullagamis. A single piece of paper was cut and folded to make each model (plus the mount). The dots embody a mathematical pattern known as a golden ratio Fibonacci sequence, also seen in nature in sunflowers or pine cones.
This old guy is a large Amazon Green parrot named Trouper. And vocally militant he can sometimes be. I had some fun scrambling his portrait to caricature my impression of his ‘dark side’. He looks so much sweeter in the original photo shown here [in my blog].
His claws and beak have drawn blood. “Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!” – Lewis Carrol
With my apologies to his indentured caregiver, N.L.P.
Three paper shells comprise this crystalline 3-D model: the folded surface shell, folded middle shell and a flat back shell. It has two, nested interior volumes. One is behind the front shell, and the other, behind the middle shell.
In the digitally designed model, these shells were a sequence of three planes. Those planes were linked into one continuous, accordion-folded zig-zag. I suppose the product of this interesting method could still be classified among all other Kirigamis, although some might surmise I’m bending the definition to fit. In the digital model, as visualized with the origami plugin, it is one inflected but unbroken object. I had to print, cut and fold three separate paper prints to make it, in practice. It would have been too cumbersome to handle with two hands, otherwise.
My recent post showed the same Kirigami form in a single shelled design. I imagined there still could be a way to impart more depth and volume than that one had. The outer ‘butterfly wing web’ was a fun design project while learning how to make a color gradient mosaic in Adobe Illustrator.
Strathmore 451-1 paper, watercolor textured, 8″ x 9″ unfolded; Epson P-600 pigment ink printer. Copyright 2017, rights reserved by William James. It’s OK to pin or link images to a noncommercial blog, and please credit this post as the source.
Earthly contours seem to bake to warm and crusty orange in the sunlight. But when in shadow, this same topography appears fluid, more like a body of wind-rippled water at night. Eerily greenish auroras billow across boundaries. I like to imagine this as a conflation of a pagan icon from a Renaissance map with a data driven, aerial radar survey.
The vivid patinas of orange and green appeared spontaneously, without any treatment after etching. However, the etching fluid was already much used. I may never see this particular color effect again!
The dark blue resist film still there on this surface could be dissolved away to expose pure, shiny copper (see below). Other artists have advised me to leave this piece just as it is, to preserve the excitement of its strong contrasts.
When I had used exactly the same graphic image before, for the first time (below), copper surfaces that were actively etched by the chemicals took on a blackish cast, different to the orange and green. Because I had stripped off the blue resist film after etching, the lately-exposed bare copper slowly oxidized to a fetchingly iridescent sheen. The blob of blue in the center was a naive experiment with a patinating chemical.
This may display as a GIF animation. If not, here are the other angles:
Lines purposely etched into the copper allowed me to neatly fold the sheet with some slight angles and curves. Because of folding, the visual drama of this darker piece is truly revealed only under dynamic lighting. (It’s supposed to display here as a GIF animation.)
There are people who cut and fold paper, or who manipulate photos in the third dimension. So, who has put both methods together? Here, you’ll find unusual pieces which are a hybrid of photo ‘covers’ with reliefs made by a paper cut and fold process. The designer of the specific 3D forms now being used, Guy Petzall, has named them Ullagamis https://www.facebook.com/ullagami/info/?tab=page_info. (His are made from unimprinted paper).
A curious proposition arose in my mind: how would one begin to develop a hybrid process to create pieces which are more than the sum of their parts (not less!). So, here’s a small taste of what I’ve learned from having superimposed about 26 different photos on eleven different 3D Ullagami reliefs.
Somehow, a photo of a photo cover on a 3D relief seems to reduce the dimensionality that was gained in the process to less than nothing. So rather than show still photos of these pieces, I’ve made these GIF animations to try to display their special qualities.
The piece shown above uses a photo of 2014 Winter Olympic Silver Medalist Yuna Kim as re-imagined on Guy’s “Vexilliod Zigzag” Ullagami.
Vexilliod Zigzag Ullagami.
This Ullagami was a great match to the photo. Ms. Kim twists her body, containing all the torque of the power stroke within her compact core. The prisms gathered below her lift and thrust her upward and forward. A pivot axis emerges which aligns with her dynamic body core. A melding of 2D/3D forms visually harmonizes a complex array of implicit forces.
Mandala 1 Pieces
Likewise on a diamond framework, the piece above has instead a calm, contemplative dynamic. The image of a stone staircase arising between two flower beds is grafted on a pattern called “Mandala 1”. The relief dimension draws the eye, and implicitly also the viewer’s body, forward and upward across many horizontals through the garden and into the trees. Further harmony emerges in the orderly proportionality of the steps in the image to those in the relief.
Mandala 1 Ullagami
More pieces on Mandala 1 are here:
Here is a double-sided piece composed of ‘right side out’ and ‘inside out’ components, nested together back to back. The paper form seems interestingly to associate with the picture as a novel (spider) web. Positive and negative spaces emerge and bind upon the incipient axis.
Mandala 2 pieces
Guy’s “Mandala 2” pattern is also based on a diamond, but this one’s a bit oblique. It reminded me of looking upward at something. The photo is an up view of a bridge tower with its cable stays. The stays pop out on the surface of the relief and seem to be almost physically stretched, something like a stringed instrument.
Here are some more mandala 2 pieces.
Inversion of the spider (above) is carried one step further in this panoramic view inside a long spiral staircase. There is no positive perspective that would be associated with normal visual experience. The spaces above and below the viewpoint spiral into empty space, and an inverted piece best represents that kind of visual experience.
The original image (found on Pinterest) looked like this: