• The six-inch tall 'Bull Moose, Opus 413' by Robert Lang is one uncut square of Japanese lokta paper.

    Photo courtesy / Robert Lang

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  • 'Night Hunter,' by Robert Lang

    Photo courtesy / Robert Lang

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  • 'Samurai Helmet Beetle, Opus 417,' by Robert Lang

    Photo courtesy / Robert Lang

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Origami master Lang will visit MIT

MacArthur Fellowship winner Erik Demaine, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, continues his mission to foster the art of origami at MIT, hoping to create new paper-folders on campus.

Demaine will host Robert J. Lang, one of the world's leading masters of origami, as an artist in residence at MIT from Nov. 11 to 17. During this period, Lang will give two lectures and two workshops (one for novices, the other for experts), visit classes, tour labs and share meals with faculty, staff and students, including members of MIT's Origami Club.

During his successful career as a physicist and engineer working in the fields of semiconductor lasers, optics and integrated optoelectronics, Lang was also an avid student of origami. He is now recognized as one of the world's leading masters of the art, with more than 400 designs catalogued and diagrammed.

Lang is noted for designs of great detail and realism, and his repertoire includes some of the most complex origami designs ever created. His work combines aspects of the Western school of mathematical origami design with the Eastern emphasis on line and form to yield models that are at once distinctive, elegant and challenging to fold.

A pioneer of the cross-disciplinary marriage of origami with mathematics, Lang has presented several refereed technical papers on origami-math at mathematical and computer science trade meetings. He has consulted on the applications of origami to engineering problems ranging from air-bag design to expandable space telescopes.

A native of Ohio, Lang has been one of the few Western columnists for Origami Tanteidan Magazine, the journal of the Japan Origami Academic Society. Additionally, he was the first Westerner invited to address the Nippon (Japan) Origami Association's annual meeting, in 1992, and has been an invited guest at international origami conventions around the world.

Lang is now a full-time origami artist and author or co-author of eight books and numerous articles on the art. He lives in California.

Demaine's love of origami grew out of his interest in the mathematics of folding. He is currently studying protein folding and hopes that computational origami--the geometry of paper folding--could eventually lead to the design of custom-made proteins to help fight disease. Demaine teaches a course on origami in the Department of Mathematics.

Folding schedule

On Thursday Nov. 11, Lang will give an overview of his work, both artistic and mathematical, at 7 p.m. in Room 123 of the Stata Center. On Saturday, Nov. 13, he'll give a workshop on folding techniques for novices from 2-4 p.m. (Sign up by e-mail to edemaine@mit.edu to learn the workshop location.)

On Monday, Nov. 15, Lang will give a technical lecture on the mathematics and algorithms in origami design from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Room 4-231. Attendees to this lecture should be familiar with mathematics and algorithms. And on Tuesday, Nov. 16, Lang will give an advanced origami design workshop for experienced folders who want to design their own models or refine their design skill from 7-9 p.m. Send e-mail to edemaine@mit.edu as soon as possible to reserve a space in that class.

On Nov. 16, Lang will sign his latest book, "Origami Design Secrets: Mathematical Models for an Ancient Art," at 4 p.m. at Quantum Books (Four Cambridge Center, Kendall Square).

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 10, 2004 (download PDF).

Topics: Mathematics, Arts

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