Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Power of Limits 2: A Circle

Stephen Nachmanovitch, in his book Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts, includes a chapter titled 'The Power of Limits.'  This is the second in a series of posts inspired by this chapter, exploring how limits not only enhance creative problem solving but are actually a requirement of such a process.  

Here's something I found today in the FAQ section of, a site dedicated to folding circles:
Most paper folding starts with a polygon shape. Origami uses square paper. The square is only part of a circle that has been cut into five pieces and four are discarded. This lacks economy. The circle has infinite diameters; the square has been reduced to two. Having no sides the circle has no limits.
From looking at the examples on this site of what you can do with folded and joined circles, it does seem that there are no limits to a circle. 

It will probably not surprise you to hear that Bradford Hansen-Smith, the creator/instigator of this movement, spent many years as a sculptor.  I love what he is doing with circles.  I feel nothing but pure, shameless joy at finding this beautiful example of the arts and math seamlessly integrated. 

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