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FEATURE ORIGAMI WITH ROBERT J. LANG WORDS BY CLAUDIA PAREDES Dr. Robert Lang was introduced to the world of origami at the age of six. For more than 40 years, he has been folding paper and creating masterpieces with his hands. Lang is now a world-recognized leader of the art. He has more than 500 designs catalogued and diagrammed, which have been in various expositions around the world. His work combines aspects of the Western school of mathematical origami design with the Eastern emphasis upon line and form to yield models that are not only distinctive and elegant, but also challenging to fold. His designs are noted for great detail and realism, and to be some of the most complex origami designs ever to be created. But where does all of his inspiration come from? "It can come from many places. For my representational work, it usually comes from the natural world: I'm inspired by a real-life subject, and want to recreate the emotional response from a piece of origami. For my geometric and abstract works, the inspiration often comes from a mathematical principle, for example, a desire to create a particular mathematical pattern or explore a mathematical concept," said Lang. Lang was born in Ohio and raised in Atlanta. He has a beautiful wife and son, who have always supported his passion for origami. Prior to becoming a full- time origami artist, he worked as a physicist, engineer, and R&D manager. He has also co- authored more than 80 technical publications, and has 50 patents awarded and pending on semiconductor lasers, optics, and integrated optoelectronics. Lang found a way to apply mathematics to his passion for origami. He is known for the cross-disciplinary marriage of origami with mathematics. Although, having knowledge of mathematics helped Lang, it is not necessary to have a prior knowledge to get into origami. "For me, it was pretty important, because my mathematical background provided a way for me to achieve artistic goals that I couldn't achieve any other way. But in general, I don't think it is necessary. There are many successful and talented origami artists who don't have a mathematical background but do beautiful work," said Lang. Lang was the first Westerner invited to address the Nippon Origami Association's annual meeting. He also lectures on origami and its connections to mathematics science, and technology. Modern origami is a unique sculptural art, and although some may say you are born with the talent, this is also a something you can learn. Origami artists teach groups of people from different backgrounds, and have noticed that the most important factor is innate aptitude. "To get good at origami, you need to enjoy the practice of it," said Lang. "Enjoyment, I think, comes from within. I can teach you to appreciate art in an intellectual sense, but I can't reach you to enjoy it." When it comes to origami, there is no mass-production process; each piece must be individually folded, and each one is your own creation. You can choose from a variety of papers, or textures, there is no limit to what you can create. Express yourself through origami; make anything that you can imagine. Although at the beginning it might be a little hard to put your ideas into paper, 77 MacDirectory

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