The Lister List

Philosophy of Diagramming

Philosophy of Diagramming and the Art of Origami.

I should like to say how important I find Zach's contribution on the Philosophy of Diagramming dated 2nd November .I would quibble with his title of the "Philosophy of Diagramming". I think "The Philosophy of Origami Art" would be more appropriate.

This is Yoshizawa's Philosophy of Origami, too. He always insists that Origami is much more than the diagrams, much more than geomety. It is not sufficient merely to follow the bald instructions. It is necessary to get into an animal, to understand its shape, the way it moves, its very nature. That is why he is so impatient with those folders who are only interested in the geometry of their models and why he spends so much of his time trying to impart to his pupils the "Spirit"of Origami.

We all tend to ask for reference points when we are attending a paperfolding class. But the greatest origami doesn't have reference points. Reference points scarcely existed for Eric Kenneway, and they don't exist for Yoshizawa. One of the first Yoshizawa models I tried to fold was his swallow. It looked so elegant in the drawing and so simple from the diagram. But I wholy failed to fold it. The reason was, becausei it required Art to fold it and I had no art in me.

Origami has been described as a performing art. By this, it is usually meant that much of the enjoyment of paperfolding comes from the actual process of folding the model rather than from the completed model when it stands before you as a piece of sculpture.

But "Performing Art" means something more. It means the Art of Performing. The best analogy is music. The notes written on the sheet of music are very far from the accomplished performance. Even a moderate interpretation requires the performer to add to the notes his own art. For a really great performance, the soloist must be as great an artist as the original composer. Great performers are few and far between. Most perform their own creations, like Yoshizawa, David brill and Michael LaFosse and a very few others.

This does not mean to say that the study of the geometry of paperfolding is not important. It is. But it is something very different from art.

By chance, the letter forllowing Zack's was Mark Morden's in response to Pat Slider. Pat Slider had given her definition of art as "Any creation that expresses something of the creator". Mark gave another facet of the definition of art, when he quoted Frank Zappa' definition of art as "something put within a frame", in other words something intended by the artist to be art .Linking the two definitions, the key factors in art are the "Something of the Artist" and the "Intention of the Artist". Without either of these factors it is not art.

Notice two things. First, art does depend on beauty. (At least, not beauty in the conventional sense; but there are many possible definitions of beauty which extend it beyond the conventional.) Second, as Mark said, the fact that something is art does not mean that it is great or even good art. Great art still needs a Mozart, a Keats, a Monet or a Yoshizawa But, while some of us may never achieve it, we can all aspire to good art, provided that we do not confuse Art with copying or mere execution.

I commend Pat's and Mark's and Zack's contributions, so different from each other, for careful comparison and study.

David Lister

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Rabbit by Stephen O'Hanlon