Excerpt of an interview with origami master Dr Robert Lang from the archive of Lucky Compiler:
A physicist, engineer, and R&D manager, Dr Robert J Lang, authored or co-authored over 80 technical publications and 50 patents, awarded and pending, on semiconductor lasers, optics, and integrated optoelectronics. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, a member and past Vice-President of the IEEE Photonics Society, and from 2007–2010 was the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics. In 2009, he received the highest honour of Caltech, the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Dr Lang is also an origami master with over 500 designs catalogued and diagrammed. He became the first person from West ever invited to address the Nippon Origami Association’s annual meeting; he lectures widely on origami and its connections to mathematics, science, and technology, and teaches workshops on both artistic techniques and applications of folding in industrial design. He is the author or co-author of thirteen books and numerous articles on origami art and design and in 2011 was elected an Honorary Member of the British Origami Society. Dr. Lang was also a featured artist in the Peabody-Award-winning documentary, Between The Folds. He took time out to take us through the many folds and creases of his creative self.
As an accomplished mathematician and scientist what first inspired you to take up Origami?
I first took up origami as a small child (age six), so this was long before my interest in mathematics and science. I think, though, that one of the things that appealed to me about origami was its self-consistent structure and patterns, and those were also what appealed to me in math and science.
You have extensively experimented with Origami both in terms of artistic and scientific means. How has the art evolved in your hands over the decades?
I have seen the art evolve in many directions, towards greater complexity but also greater simplicity; toward greater abstraction, but also greater realism. Origami as an art form has radiated in many different directions. I suspect that my own contributions have contributed to this evolution and radiation, but I’m too close to the process to be able to assess my personal influence; all I can really say is that it has changed, my own work has changed, and there have been links between both sets of changes.
Is there any particular area of concentration for a youngster new to this art form during his learning phases?
I offer one piece of advice to those starting out: focus on precision, on making every crease in exactly the right place on the first try with no extra creases. If folding carefully and precisely, without rushing, becomes second nature, then other skills will naturally follow.
Any specific message for the youngsters who are starting their careers in their chosen field of interests be it art or science?
Pursue what you enjoy, and don’t worry about whether it meets the expectations of others.