In March 2018, I worked with two contractors and a group of volunteers to move the Synergia installation from the North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana to the Indiana University Bloomington campus. The volunteers included my former students Tristin Moore and Siqiao Gao, and Bloomington High School South students Dexter Wu-corts and Levy Burdine. The site was the nice and quiet green space between the Simon Hall, Chemistry building, the Lindley Hall, and the Kirkwood Hall. It took us about four days to complete the job. While Synergia was originally designed for the site at the North Christian Church designed by Eero Saarinen, it also fitted well on IUB campus. The white pristine geometry worked in contrast with the Collegiate Gothic style structures in the background. The installation definitely had caught the eyes and curiosities of students and faculty who happened to walk by the area. For one instance, Molecular and Celluar Biochemistry professor Adam Zlotnick took his entire class to see the pavilion as Synergia’s cellular structure resembled the viruses they had been study. For anther instance, biology student Ari Williams, found peace and serenity in the pavilion while playing some guitar. He was amazed at how the cellular structure enhanced the acoustic experience in the outdoor on windy spring days (video above, shot with a iphone).
Washi Art and Design, an international paper art exhibition, is the first group exhibition I curated and organized. The show runs from August 26th to September 21, 2017, at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center in Bloomington, Indiana. The participating artists are Yuri Kawai (Japan), Sachiko Kinoshita (Japan), Amanda Ross (U.S.), Rowland Ricketts (U.S.), Koji Shibazaki (Japan), Jenny Stopher (U.S.), Mikao Suzuki (Japan), Ruigan Zhou (China), and myself.
The Exhibition is focused on the theme of Washi and other paper art. Washi paper is made from the long inner fibers of three plants: Kozo (mulberry tree), Mitsumata, and Gampi. Due to these raw materials and the traditional craft techniques, Washi papermaking has no adverse environmental impact. The paper is very durable and can last as long as a few hundred years. In Japan, Washi has played a significant role in the lifestyle and culture of the Japanese people. In addition to its more common uses in stationary and in the fine arts, Washi is used in many different cultural activities such as in religious and ceremonial events. Its fabric-like quality makes it suitable for applications in fashion, interior lighting, and interior furnishing. Though there is a long history of Washi papermaking in Japan, today only a few Washi papermakers are continuing their papermaking traditions, and Professor Koji Shibazaki’s Washi research lab at Aichi University of Arts is one of them.
The exhibition and workshop are supported in part by a workshop grant from Indiana University’s College Arts & Humanities Institute.
This summer I was invited to participate in an international paper art biennial at CODA museum in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. I exhibited Light Harvest, a large interactive installation art that is inspired by the intriguing protein structure of Light-harvesting Complexes (LHC). LHC contains pigments that absorb light and transfer the solar energy to chemical energy.
Three large crates, about 37.5″ D x 22.5″ H x 73″ L, and one small crate, about 28.5″ D x 19″ L x 33.5″ H, were shipped from Bloomington, Indiana, to Apeldoorn, Netherlands, in early May. My team and I arrived in Apeldoorn in late May. We rented a small Airbnb house near the museum for four days and were able to walk to the museum to work every day. It was an enjoyable experience. On the first day, the museum staff helped us set up the ceiling canopy in the exhibition space. On the second and the third day, we worked on the paper structure installation and the technical setup. On the fourth day, we worked on the projection mapping.
After we arrived in Apeldoorn, Kyle Overton and I decided that we would try a new way of coding in Processing to produce a different interactive experience than the previous installation at the Grunwald Gallery. As a result, Kyle spent most of the four days writing 1500 lines of the codes! The Processing outputs a smooth gradation of cool blue and green hues, to be projection-mapped onto the folded Light Harvest protein structure. The green and blue gradation of light, projected from three projectors, mimics the deep water in which certain photosynthetic algae with a particular class of phycobilin pigments live. Each pigment, contained within LHC, has a unique absorption spectrum, allowing it to absorb certain wavelengths of light. These particular algae, appearing to be red, can carry out photosynthesis in deep water where the wavelengths of blue-green lights are most abundant by absorbing blue-green and reflecting red! When viewers enter the exhibition floor and interact with each chain of Light Harvest, the chain will turn into red-orange color. The interaction means to let the viewers know that photosynthesis is in action!
I would like to say thank you the CODA Museum staff, particularly Roosmarij Deenik and Helma Peters for helping to turn this project into a reality.
Jiangmei Wu (with Kyle Overton and Susanne Ressl)
Production team: Steven Dixon, Siqiao Gao, Dexter Wu
I was invited to participate at Kaleidoscope 5 in 3Labs in Culver City, California, in May of 2017. The exhibition featured seven engaging installations from nine artists: Alex Beim, Ben Jones, Kate Parsons and Ben Vance, Ara Peterson and Jim Drain, James Turrell, Akiko Yamashita, and myself. I installed the Ruga Lumina and the Anemoi Light Art.
About seven hundred or more guests attended the Kaleidoscope 5. According to the event organizer, the groups of artists’ “transcendent efforts harness the complex properties of light, skillfully manipulate real and virtual space, and utilize experimental forms of materiality to produce intriguing atmospheres that provoke unique physical and emotional responses.”
Ruga Lumina, an ongoing design research project, is part of my solo show, Jiangmei Wu: Folding into Rhythm and Algorithm, that was on display From January 10, 2017, to February 10, 2017, at Detroit Center for Design + Technology in Detroit, Michigan. There was a closing on February 10, 2017. As part of the solo exhibition, I spoke at School of Architecture and Planning at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan on January 12, 2017, at 4:00 pm.
In Ruga Lumina, the latest iteration of Ruga Interior Skin, interactive digital projection techniques are used to actively engage body-space relationship. As the viewers move in the space, their movements are captured by the Kinect Sensors and the information is translated into color changing information in the digital projections to be projected onto the translucent interior skin that is fabricated from 4 mm Coroplast sheets. A scaffolding that was made of cardboard and wooden rods was used to frame the somewhat flexible topology of the interior skin to facilitate the positioning and connecting of over seventy individual panels. Since the folding mechanism in each of the Coroplast panel is a flexible hinge joint, the edges of the interior skin are reinforced with fixed braces to give rigidity to this otherwise flexible topology. Both flexible and rigid, the interactive interior skin draws the connection between the body and the interior space, placing the dichotomy of permanent vs. ephemeral, solid vs. light, and materiality vs. digital fabrication at the center of the concept.
Acknowledgment: This project is supported by New Frontier of Creativity and Scholarship and Center of Arts and Humanities Institute Fellowship, Indiana University. The artist will also like to credit Kyle Overton for his work on interaction technology.
Video of Ruga Lumina deconstruction made of still photography. Photography by Joseph Caputo
The 2017 Mathematical Art Exhibition Awards were made at the Joint Mathematics Meetings last week “for aesthetically pleasing works that combine mathematics and art.” The three chosen works were selected from the exhibition of juried works in various media by 73 mathematicians and artists from around the world.
“Torus,” one of my folded light art, was awarded Best textile, sculpture, or other medium. I’m interested in how paper folding can be expressed mathematically, physically, and aesthetically. Torus is folded from one single sheet of uncut paper. Gauss’s Theorema Egregium states that the Gaussian curvature of a surface doesn’t change if one bends the surface without stretching it. Therefore, the isometric embedding from a flat square or rectangle to a torus is impossible. The famous Hévéa Torus is the first computerized visualization of Nash Problem: isometric embedding of a flat square to a torus of C1 continuity without cutting and stretching. Interestingly, the solution presented in Hévéa Torus uses the fractal hierarchy of corrugations that are similar to pleats in fabric and folds in origami. In my Torus, isometric embedding of a flat rectangle to a torus of C0 continuity is obtained by using periodic waterbomb tessellation.
The work is made of Hi-tec Kozo Paper and measures 45 x 45 x 20 cm.
Light Harvest will be part of a group exhibit, (Re)imagining Science at Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University. It is also part of Themester 2016 exhibitions that are centered on the theme of Beauty. The show opens on Oct 14th, 2016.
This project is inspired by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s work on form and growth and the structural biology. In 1917, Thompson first published his magnum opus “On Growth and Form,” with a second edition appeared in 1942. Thompson studied the system of forms and structures found in all species of nature. He was the first bio-mathematician who used mathematical and geometric analysis to study the myriad living forms as a product of dynamics at work at cellular and tissue level within all organisms. For Thompson, the beautiful world we live in can be understood as an ethereal palpitation of waves of energy making up all things. Thompson’s book has inspired generations of artists and designs in search of beauty found in natural structures that reach into vastness and smallness beyond our human sensory range.
Proteins are essential to all forms of life on earth. Without proteins, there would be no life as we know it. Proteins are small molecular machines with unique folding structures. Their various functions rely on their proper structural architecture; this is called the structure-functional relationship. Protein structures cannot be seen with the naked eye. Therefore structural biologists use X-ray Crystallography to determine the structure of proteins, which can be visualized in 3D. This allows not just analyzing the folding structure to understand a protein’s function; it also reveals the beauty of nature’s design on the atomic level.
The particular protein that is presented in Light Harvest is called Light-Harvesting Complex (LHC), which is the solar sail of the photosynthesis components in plants and some micro-organisms that uses bundled sunlight and together with water to create sugar and oxygen, thus providing the basis for life on this planet. It is made of three amino acid chains with 207 amino acids in each of the chains. Computer algorithm-based program Grasshopper was used to create the scaffolding of the three-dimensional protein chain. 642 pieces of rollout patterns, of which 207 were unique, were laser-cut and etched at Noblitt Fabricating in Columbus Indiana and were hand-folded and assembled at my studio at Smith Research Center. The material is high-tech Kozo, a type of Japanese-made paper that comes from renewable mulberry trees.
Video projection mapping technologies will be used to bring the light, colors, and the interactivity to live. For the artistic meanings and the science behind Light Harvest, please come to the show on Oct 14th and make sure to check out www.foldedlightart.com for more information.
Acknowledgement: This project is supported by New Frontier of Creativity and Scholarship and the Grunwald Gallery of Art at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
- Science: Susanne Ressl (Assistant Professor, Structural Biology, Indiana University)
- Technology: Kyle Overton (Ph.D. student, HCID, Indiana University)
- Fabrication: Steve Dixon (Noblitt Fabricating, Columbus, Indiana)
- Production: Siqiao Gao (Undergraduate student, Interior Design, Indiana University)
Folded Light Art, the design brand that I have established since 2013, was chosen by SIGGRAPH Studio committee to be highlighted at SIGGRAPH 2016 in Anaheim, California. It was very interesting and exciting for me to be invited to SIGGRAPH, the world’s largest, most influential annual event in computer graphics and interactive techniques. At SIGGRAPH, participants were invited to have hands-on experience in paper folding and making small-scale folded lights.
The curator of SIGGRAPH Studio this year was Gerry Derksen, who is Associate Professor in Visual Communication Design at the Winthrop University. He described to me that there have been increasing interests at the culture of physical making with tangible materials among academics and professionals who primarily work in digital environment. Digital environment, unlimited by its virtual power, is quite different from paper folding, which is bounded by material realities and sets of mathematical and physical rules. So why do people who primarily work in digital environment become interested at paper folding? While paper folding can be simply done by hands, to design original crease patterns for paper folding is not so simple. Furthermore, to simulate the paper folding in digital space indeed is a very complicate computational task. Therefore paper folding is a perfect medium that bridges the digital world and the analog space. Understanding how paper folding works both in digital and analog environments might provide us with new insights on creating innovative digital tools to mitigate the difference between the virtual and the real.
Folded Light Art attracted great interests from SIGGRAPH community. Pieces of cardstock paper were laser cut and scored with sets of pre-designed crease patterns on site and were handed to participants to fold and assemble. During the five-day event at SIGGRAPH, there were such high demands and interests at Folded Light Art that laser-cut paper ran out frequently. The most common question I received from the participants at SIGGRAPH was how I came up with an original origami design . My answer to these questions was always the same: I came up with the design by folding and playing with a piece of paper by hand first.
Many thanks to Adam Roth, Haodan Tan, and many other student volunteers at SIGGRAPH for helping with this installation. Without all your help, the installation won’t have been possible.
I participated in the 2015 Lighting Architecture Movement Project, an international lighting competition based in Vancouver, and was selected as one of the finalists for my folded light art titled Eurus. The theme in 2015 was Crystallize. The competition was evaluated based on aesthetics, function, creativity, social and environmental responsibility and creative interpretation of the theme. The 2015 judges include some very well known names in design such as Tom Dixon, Michael Anastassiades, Omer Arbel, Falken Reynolds, John Patkau, Nancy Bendtsen and Andlight. The competition was covered in many major Canadian design magazines and newspapers, including Gray Magazine, the Globe & Mail, Western Living, The Vancouver Sun, etc. As a finalist, I had the opportunity to exhibit at the LAMP event at Jan Kath showroom in Vancouver in February 2016. Below are some pictures from the exhibition, photos courtesy of When They Find Us.