Coincidentally, I watched a documentary with my relatives over the holidays called Between The Folds, a wonderful look at origami. The film lets the artists themselves talk about what drew them to paper folding, and how it is an art, a science, an artistic science, and a scientific art. In amongst all the glorious polygonal paper topology was an offhand reference by physicist Robert Lang, about the “Bug Wars” of the ’90s. Bug Wars! I had to find out.
Like any community of enthusiasts, origami has spawned many conventions, clubs, and competitions. At one such club known as Origami Tanteidan Jun Maekawa decided to one-up everybody in 1992 by taking a multi-legged rhinoceros beetle model (no simple feat in itself) and add outspread wings to its design. “Then,” says the club’s ‘Insect War‘ page, “the origami insect war got full-scale.” If somebody brought a winged beetle one year, the next somebody made a winged stag beetle. Last year’s spider begets a scorpion. Origami enthusiasts would gleefully analyze each others’ crease patterns, then scour the natural world for an invertebrate nobody had folded before and bring that to the next meeting.
The result is an endless swarm of insect origami, entire Flickr groups comprised entirely of folded sculptures representing insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and other arthropods. The Flickr group gives you a taste of the utterly amazing creatures that are being created. As well as being one of the artists profiled in Between The Folds, Lang also expounds a bit about the Bug Wars and the science of origami in a New Yorker article. Lang considers his creations to be compositions, and each sculpture is an ‘Opus’, much like a musical work. Sure, make fun of him if you like, but not until you’ve made your own damn gerromorpha out of a single piece of paper.
Because I can’t help it, here’s a bunch more obscure beasts, each made from a single piece of paper:
One thing’s for sure, I really want to make an origami insect. Perhaps though I’ll start with the insect basics, as right now the only origami I can make is one of those ‘fortune tellers’ from grade school!