The Japanese art of origami seems nothing more than a beautiful diversion, or, depending on your manual dexterity, a frustrating one. But the act of transforming a flat piece of paper into a praying mantis involves complex mathematics — not that you need to know any particular formulae. And it's origami's combination of complexity and simplicity that draws certain people deeper into the mysteries of creating three dimensions from two. Filmmaker Vanessa Gould documented ten such people who have abandoned their lives to pursue the possibilities of origami in her film Between the Folds
. Some are artists fascinated by the sculptural elements of the skill; Erik Demaine, a glass blower and professor of computer science at MIT, is intrigued more by the mathematics and computational possibilities of folded paper. Learning how to achieve complex folds leads to practical applications in areas as diverse as automobile air-bag deployment and protein folding (certain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and cancer, have been linked to incorrectly folded proteins). Between the Folds
screens at 7 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org
). Admission is free, and you can try your hand at paper folding after the film.
Wed., Nov. 11, 2009