Sunday, December 4, 2011

Marveling at Moving Patterns (Video)

I took my daughter to the Nutcracker Ballet this afternoon at Indiana University.  We had a great vantage point from up in the balcony, perfect for a six year old actually.  We could see the entire audience and into the orchestra pit, usually hidden from view.  We had a great view of the stage.  And, it was the perfect place to take in the big picture of moving bodies in space.

Personally, I enjoyed the corps de ballet pieces the best.  I'm usually very sensitive to timing and phrasing, but every group piece was so well performed that I was just able to relax and take in the moment. 

I had a thought, while watching, about how the lines and movement through space (both in the bodies and around the stage) were made more understandable, and beautiful, because of the amplification of the patterns.  By this I mean, sixteen dancers on stage dancing the same choreography highlighted the patterns and rhythms in a way that a solos or a pas de deux does not. 

I also thought about how the real meaning to be found in patterns is in the change and movement between one moment and the next.  We often think of patterns as fixed moments in time, but even visual artists know that without a sense of movement on the paper, the patterns lose meaning.  At this point in my inquiry into such topics I know enough to say confidently that math, science, social sciences, history, literature, and arts of all kinds ALL assign some value to what happens between Point A and Point B.

That is what we do in Math in Your Feet. We move from Point A to Point B.  We figure out how we're going to get there, and which way we're going to turn.  We connect the four individual pieces of time to make a larger whole and once we've got the flow of that, we then find a way to connect our patterns together -- where does one end and the other begin?  These are the questions of mathematicians and scientists and artists and philosophers as expressed through the mind and body of a typical fourth grader.

As we sloshed home through dark late afternoon rain I suddenly remembered seeing a video almost a year ago of micro-origami unfolding in water; they have a very fractal-like quality.  I recently watched Between the Folds, a documentary about origami, and was moved to tears at the depth of meaning inherent in the process of folding.  Since we think of origami as a fixed and finished object we often don't observe or think about what happens between a flat, uncut square and the final 3D object. 

This video of micro-origami, below, will show you, in reverse, the movement, order, folds and structure used to create each piece. 

The original silent video of Etienne Cliquet's Flottille (2011) is here but I chose this (shorter) video that was presented with music, to share with you.  Enjoy!

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