Light Harvest: Interactive Sculptural Installation based on Folding and Mapping Proteins


Wu, J., Ressl, S. & Overton, K (2018). Light Harvest: Interactive Sculptural Installation based on Folding and Mapping Proteins, Digital Creativity, doi: 10.1080/14626268.2018.1533871.

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Light Harvest is an interactive sculptural installation that explores a protein called Light-Harvesting Complex II (LHCII) in the realm of materials, digital fabrication, projection mapping and interaction design. This article gives an account of the making of Light Harvest, a collaboration between an artist/designer, a structural biologist, and an interaction design technologist. The artistic concepts in material construction and digital techniques are drawn from protein folding, sophisticated mapping processes in protein X-ray crystallography, and the remarkable abilities of LHCI proteins to convert full-spectrum visible sunlight to useful energy for life. Through its interactive installation, Light Harvest engages us in an appreciation and understanding of the biological processes studied and the scientific techniques used to study them.

Ruga Lumina: Folding Interior Skin with Dynamic Light


Wu, J. (2018). Ruga Lumina: Folding Interior Skin with Dynamic Light, Journal of Interior Design, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp. TBD. doi: 10.1111/joid.12123

Link to full paper in PDF


Ruga Lumina investigates body–space relationships by leveraging digital fabrication and interactive technologies. Ruga Lumina is a spatial construct in the form of a smart luminous “skin” made of thin sheets of folded material that respond to the movement of live bodies within and surrounding its interior space. Spatial occupancy is registered through the use of smart technology; sensor information activates illumination and lighting effects, which, in turn, prompts perceptual and expressive aesthetic qualities as affects. This visual essay gives an account of the construction of Ruga Lumina at two exhibition sites: Detroit Center for Design and Technology (DCDT) in Detroit, Michigan, and 3Labs in Culver City, California. This account describes how bodies can be read and registered upon a spatial surface that points to a potential to re‐envision fundamental notions of surface interiority.

Washi Art + Design at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center

Washi Art + Design at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, Bloomington, Indiana

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.

A Surihaku (gold foil painting) workshop was conducted by artist Mikako Suzuki at the Waldron Arts Center. For more information about the workshop, please visit here.

The exhibition and workshop are supported in part by a workshop grant from Indiana University’s College Arts & Humanities Institute.

Washi paper light by Professor Koji Shibazaki of Aichi University of Arts
Jiangmei Wu explaining to Professor Katy Borner about the intricate Kirikane art by Japanese artist Mikako Suzuki as Professor Hamid Ekbia watched on
Japanese textile artist Sachiko Kinoshita’s Swing Circle is made of yarn and Kozo paper fiber

Method for Folding Flat, Non-rigid Materials to Create Rigid, Three-dimensional Structure


Wu. J. (October 31, 2017). Method for Folding Flat, Non-rigid Materials to Create Rigid, Three-dimensional Structures. Patent No: US 9,803,826 B2. Washington DC: The United States Patent and Trademark Office

Published_Patent in PDF

Priority Claim: The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent App. No. 61/893,519, filed Oct. 21, 2013, the entire disclosure of which is hereby expressly incorporated herein by reference.

Field: The present disclosure relates generally to creating rigid three-dimensional structures by folding flat, non-rigid materials. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to a method of folding a non-rigid material with a score or crease pattern into a three-dimensional structure for covering a light source.

Applying Helical Triangle Tessellations in Folded Light Art (Bridges Conference Paper)


Wu, J. (2017). Applying Helical Triangle Tessellation in Folded Light Art. In D. Swart, C Séquin. & K. Fenyvesi (Eds.), Proceedings of Bridges 2017: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science (pp. 383-386), Phoenix, Arizona: Tessellation Publishing


This article describes how I created a collection of lamps made of folded sheets of material using helical triangle tessellations, which are also called Nojima patterns. I started by working with a periodic helical triangle pattern to fold a piece of light art that is shaped in a hexagonal column. I continued by modifying the periodic pattern into a semi-periodic design by adding variations so that the tessellation could be folded into a light art that is shaped in a twisted column. I further developed tessellations that consisted of self-similar helical triangles by using a geometric construction method. These self-similar helical triangles form algorithmic spirals. I folded the tessellation design into a work of light art that is shaped in a conical hexagonal form.

External Links:

Link to PDF


Paper Folding Workshop at College of Architecture and Design, Lawrence Technological University


Folding a piece of paper can be simple and doesn’t require any sophisticated tools. I often tell the students who participate my workshop that paper folding can do a lot more than computer CAD modeling. Since paper folding is unstable and flexible, manipulation of the paper surface to achieve depth and volume is dynamic. The fold stores kinetic energy, which allows the folded form to contract and unfurl. It can then be balanced, connected, hinged, suspended, pulled and popped up to alternate states of disequilibrium and equilibrium. Paper folding is unforgiving and honest. A folded form embeds the memory of a series of actions of scoring, creasing, twisting, wrapping, pressing, bending and folding. Unfolding folded paper reveals a patterned map of creating and generating. Paper folding is generative and evolving. It is difficult to describe an abstract folded form through its visual characteristics. Paper folding is improvisational and unpredictable. A simple fold has many possibilities and can generate many visual results, and it can only be discovered by folding.

About twenty students from the College of Architecture and Design at Lawrence Technological University participated the workshop. The workshop was conducted in the gallery The students are from Interior Design, Architecture and other programs.

I often begin my process using a step-by-step procedure, or algorithm, first by hand only. I demonstrated this technique to the students.  They started by folding smaller pieces of square paper into simple designs, and they then repeated the same steps for a multiple of times to create repetitions of these simple designs. And finally, they worked on connecting the folded pieces to create a larger form. The students learned that small seeds can be compounded and aggregated to create something that is a lot of complex than the original simple design.


2017 Mathemacal Art Exhibition Awards

light_torus_night_1.jpgThe 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.

Folded Light in Beginning Interior Architecture Studio

fullsizerender-1_editedIn my Beginning Interior Architecture Studio in Fall 2016, co-taught with Jei Kim and Jon Racek, the first year design students were asked to use paper folding design methodology to understand basic design principles, such as unity, repetition, symmetry, contrast, etc. They were also requested to use the assembly and construction process in paper folding to produce a small scale light sculpture. The project was divided into three cohesive small parts that serve as scaffolds for the students. Before this project, the majority of students had never folded before and had never made any design objects. Therefore learning scaffolds were necessary.

In the first part, the students were asked to create small units of paper folds from pieces of small square paper based on simple line draws they made using straight edges and compasses. They were asked to explore these patterns in both bilateral and quadrant symmetries. They were given a couple of examples learn about how to assign mountain and valley folds to the lines patterns and then they were asked to turn their own line patterns into crease patterns by exploring various ways of folding and cutting by hand. The students were intimated at first as they were not comfortable working with their hands. They soon gained confidence when they observed how flat pieces of square paper changed into something that had sculptural depths.

In the second part, the students were asked to connect at least eight units of their paper folds. The goal was to generate somewhat seamless designs. Students were taught to connect the units by using ways to make the symmetric pattern in a plane, such as translation, rotation, reflection, glide-reflection. They were also taught to use polyhedron geometry to connect the units into spherical volumes. They studied platonic solids such as icosahedron and dodecahedron, Archimedean solids such as cuboctahedron and rhombicuboctahedrons, as well as Catalan solids such as rhombic dodecahedron and rhombic triacontahedron.

In the last part, the students were asked to add more units to create a volumetric paper sculpture. They were graded on the craftsmanship and the final lighted presentation. Many of the students turned in interesting works. Most students did a good job creating their units design. However, they had more difficulty connecting the units to generate structure volumes.

Special thanks to Noelle Zeichner, Abigail Stawick, Julia Gilstrap and Yuning Ding for providing some of the pictures shown on this blog. For my Folded Light Art brand, please visit

Folded Light Art at SIGGRAPH 2016


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.