Folding Paper: Visual Art Meets Mathematics Exhibition Closing

Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan

Professor Erik Demaine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is known for blurring the lines between art and mathematics, freely moving from designing sculpture to proving theorems and back again. Paper folding provides a great setting for this approach, as it mixes a rich geometric structure with a beautiful art form.

Mathematically, Professor Demaine has continually developed new algorithms to fold paper into any shape; his work with Tomohiro Tachi of the University of Tokyo on the new Origamizer algorithm has enabled efficient watertight folding of any polyhedral surface, such as the classic Stanford bunny or Utah teapot. Sculpturally, Professor Demaine has been exploring curved creases, which remain poorly understood mathematically, but have potential applications in robotics, deployable structures, manufacturing, and self-assembly. His collaborations with his father, Martin Demaine, have also allowed him to explore how folding changes with other materials, such as hot glass, opening a new approach to glass blowing, and finding new ways for paper and glass to interact.

By integrating science and art, we constantly find new inspirations, problems, and ideas: proving that sculptures do or don't exist, or illustrating mathematical beauty through physical beauty. Join us for a special lecture as Professor Demaine discusses his collaborations in the fields of mathematics and art, and how they overlap through the realm of paper folding.

This lecture is presented as part of the Unfolding the Universe exhibition.


Erik Demaine is a Professor in Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Demaine's research interests range throughout algorithms, from data structures for improving web searches to the geometry of understanding how proteins fold to the computational difficulty of playing games. He received a MacArthur Fellowship (2003) as a "computational geometer tackling and solving difficult problems related to folding and bending—moving readily between the theoretical and the playful, with a keen eye to revealing the former in the latter". Demaine cowrote a book about the theory of folding, together with Joseph O'Rourke (Geometric Folding Algorithms, 2007), and a book about the computational complexity of games, together with Robert Hearn (Games, Puzzles, and Computation, 2009). Together with his father Martin, his interests span the connections between mathematics and art, including curved origami sculptures in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Renwick Gallery in the Smithsonian.

Photo & Video Policy

The Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan reserves the right to use any photograph/video taken at any event sponsored by JICC, without the expressed written permission of those included within the photograph/video. JICC may use the photograph/video in publications or other media material produced, used or contracted by JICC including but not limited to: brochures, invitations, newspapers, magazines, television, social media, websites, etc. To ensure the privacy of individuals and children, images will not be identified using full names or personal identifying information without written approval from the photographed subject, parent or legal guardian. A person attending a JICC event who does not wish to have their image recorded for distribution should make their wishes known to the photographer/videographer, and/or the event organizers.