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Paper Music
Perhaps surprisingly, it is possible to make music with paper. In a conventional musical sense there are origami whistles and bangers, then you have the "comb and tissue paper" and the "tooter", where a small triangle of paper buzzes at the end of a tube. However, some musicians have taken things a lot further.Whilst at University in the late 70's Paul Jackson began to experiment with the sonic possibilities of paper. In the mid 90's, he was commissioned to produce a CD of music generated from paper sources for the "Masters of Origami" exhibition in Salzburg. Paul's music site is here. At about the same time, UK improvising musician (and paperfolder) Nick Robinson was also using the computer to arrange and manipulate paper sound, culminating in a project for the Chain Tape Collective called "paper music". Nick's music site is here.

Grace Leslie (composer, flutist, researcher) and I are making music with origami this quarter. More to come soon! Abstract

In this composition, we explore the freedom and limitations of a live electronic music performance using the paper folding art origami for inspiration and as a source of noisy acoustic sounds. We have noticed a similarity between computer music and origami in that both are flexible media that gain complexity by processing and combining simple materials and parts, thus we consider origami a good metaphor for the possibilities of computer music. The process of paper folding will be captured in the musical form and structure as well as the spatialization patterns used. The sounds produced by the paper folding are captured using microphones and processed using Max/MSP, and the interaction between the performers determines the structuring of sound and silence. The inherent fragility of working with paper allows us to reflect on the possibilities of electronic music production outside of the machine dependency paradigm.

Paper Planes in Space
In a bold bid to take the traditional art of origami beyond the Final Frontier, Japan is planning to release a huge squadron of paper aeroplanes in outer space.

The trailblazing experiment, slated for launch later this year, could see around 100 paper planes raining down on the planet as they are captured by the Earth’s gravitational pull and sucked down towards the surface.

Astronomers and star-gazers should have plenty of warning of the planes’ arrival, though: Shinichi Suzuki, the University of Tokyo professor behind the scheme, believes the paper flotilla will take several months to complete its gentle, gliding descent from upper atmosphere to the planet’s surface.

The origami planes, which will measure around 20cm each and weigh just 30 grams, are to be hurled into the void by a Japanese astronaut scheduled to visit the International Space Station this summer. The experiment would, if successful, qualify for the longest ever flight by a paper plane: if one of the fleet should miraculously make it to earth, its journey will have been around 400km.

If any do make it back, the planes are statistically most likely to land in the sea - performing the same “splashdown” as the Apollo space missions. In the unlikely event that one floats down to solid ground, the lucky finder will be able to unfold the plane and discover the return address at the Japan Space Agency. “It’s going to be the space version of a message in a bottle. It will be great if someone picks one up,” said Prof. Suzuki, “We are thinking of writing messages on the planes saying ’if found, please contact us’ in a couple of languages.” The idea comes as Japan is desperately trying to generate interest in its conventional space programme. Many Japanese have lost interest in the exploits of the nation’s Space Agency (JAXA) because of a string of embarrassing rocket launch failures.

The paper aircraft, meanwhile, are to be constructed from a specially heat-proofed paper able to withstand the astonishing temperatures liable to be experienced upon re-entry. The paper will also be chemically fortified to survive the enormous speeds that the planes will be travelling at as they are pulled into the earth’s orbit and breach the outer atmosphere.

In recent experiments by the Japan Origami Airplane Association, the prototypes have withstood speeds of Mach 7 and temperatures of 300C before disintegrating. The design of the planes - not unlike the United States Space Shuttle - is also calculated to minimise the destructive effects of re-entry.

There is serious scientific intent behind the plan. Japan believes that if the paper planes are successful, they may open possibilities of using softer, lighter materials for constructing space craft.

Concorde and Paper Aeroplanes 
The apotheosis of supersonic travel began life as a paper aeroplane. Engineers and designers who worked on the Concorde project from its inception in 1959 were not averse to taking their models outside at the British Aircraft Corporation in Bristol at lunchtime to see how they performed.

Alan Perry, 77, who worked at BAC until the aircraft’s retirement in 2003, said: “There’s no better way to test an idea than to take it outside and see if it flies. Sometimes we’d even use our punch cards. We’d fold them up, take them outside at lunchtime if the weather was nice and see who could fly them farthest from the hanger.

It is all a long way from those early days and models in Bristol. Frank Nutbeen, 75, an engineer who worked on Concorde from 1959 to 1994, said: “There was a whole think-tank that spent all day folding paper planes and scribbling plans to achieve what most people at the time thought would be impossible.”

Greatest moves in origami
The Chinese junk or ship of state. Following the folding method in Paper Magic by Bob Harbin we arrive at a tray and then turn this into a shape which seems dull in the extreme. Yet by pulling out the two ends a most wonderful transformation takes place and a 3D boat is revealed with a hold and fully locked shape.

The unfoldable box by E.D. Sullivan in which the last move forms an unfoldable box. (Paul Jackson's book, Classic Origami)

Also in the same book is Fujimoto's cube. Paul calls the move that forms the cube the best move in origami and who can disagree?

Hello Fox by Mitsuo Okuda. What a wonderful last move to suddenly reveal the fox and how gloriously simple.

Wearable Origami
A waistcoat and hat has been assembled from units by Maarten van Gelder of the Nederlands (reported on Internet 1995). The waistcoat is made of 814 units and is life-sized; it has been shown at some conventions. It is pretty warm (paper is a good insulator).

Most revolting move in origami
The inflation of the classic Japanese blow-up frog.

Greatest eccentric in origami
Peter Koppen, a Munich bus driver, who only folds the classic boat (like a hat). He calls them Microships and folds hundreds of them in different colours and then assembles them into collages. He has been reported as having folded over two hundred thousand (200,000) of them. See der falter, No. 5, April 1991, for more about this extraordinary man.

golden crane award