What is Oribotics
Oribotics is the fusion of origami and technology, specifically 'bot' technology, such as robots, or intelligent computer agents known as bots. Ori-botics is a joining of two complex fields of study. Ori comes from the Japanese verb Oru literally meaning 'to fold'. Origami the japanese word for paper folding, comes from the same root. Oribotics is origami that is controlled by robot technology; paper that will fold and unfold at the click of a button.
What is an oribot?
An Oribot by definition is a folding bot. By this definition, anything that uses robotics/botics and folding together is an oribot. This includes some industrial applications already in existance, such as Miura's folds taken to space, and also includes my two latest works. Orimattic, and Oribotics.
This work oribotics, is a statement about the future of origami. It specifically showcases a primitive form of what is truely possible. It is my feeling that this show is only scratching the paint on the surface. That underneath this idea is an amazing machine. That is currently being developed. Programmers, engineers, and folders are naturally progressing towards the advent of true, pure oribotics - self folding systems.
This work shows primitive oribots. Flowers, blossoming to the world, showing their electronic dreams of mimicking real flowers. They are not able to reconfigure themselves, or reproduce, or have any effect on the world other than being beautiful. Their nature is in their crease patterns, and their robotics simply reveals that. The crease pattern is the core of their being, their program.
About the nature of origami
Origami mimics nature. Origami has tended towards representing the world around the folder in an abstract manner. Some folders are fascinated by insects, so they fold insects, some look at birds, dogs, cats, cars, religious imagery, and the list goes on. Today it is conceiveable that anything is foldable. So the world of origami reflects the world. Perhaps this is true of many artistic mediums. The difference with origami is the idealised starting rules. That an ideal model is folded from a single square sheet of paper. That such a simple 2d plane can produce such complexity, using such simple rules as folding is incredible. The evolutionary rate of increase in complexity of origami models has rocketed. Computers are now playing a major role in design of new crease patterns. It is very likely that they will soon begin to evolve folding sequences.
About the nature of oribotics
Oribotics mimics nature. We will see a new form of folding evolve, we can already see the evidence. Computer designed crease patterns, and now computer or robotic folding.
An oribot is nothing but a static sculpture without a program, and its life source electricity. All robotics revolves around programming, hence oribotics is at its core a program. Where the crease pattern is the physical/virtual manifestation program. A crease pattern is like DNA structure, determining the shape and motion in an oribot. The animation of the folds is how the nature of the crease pattern is revealed. We can see if it is perfect by how well it folds, the final shape of the model, and if it is beautiful. It is apparent to me that origami is very beautiful, and it is my intuition that says it is because of the circular nature of folding that origami is beautiful. All folds revolve around a circle. Hold your arm out in front of you, watch the tip of your finger, and bend your elbow, imagining that your elbow is the line of a fold, and your finger tip is the corner of the paper. Rotate your arm from your elbow as if you were folding, notice that your finger tip moves in a circular arc. All folds at their simplest form are circular.
How did oribotics come about
Oribotics was born early one morning when I had a vision of a folding robot, a triangular shaped model that could folding itself as a form of motion. It matched the shape of my work Orimattic, a work based on a triangular grid, photographic images, and a basic AI design for a creature which folds its way around a triangular grid (trid). The idea was to extend the previous work into the real world, into a sculptural mechanised form. Capable of being interacted with by a sensor based system. The idea was tantalising, and I began work during my 2003 Residency at the Latrobe Regional Gallery. It was not long before I deduced that my building blocks (Lego RIS - Robotics Invention System) were inadequate for building the creature I had imagined. So I began to seek simpler ideas, and eventually developed the oribotic flower. The idea came from an understanding of a traditional Japanese fold called a "Tato". This model is based on an octagon, but its twist fold technique can be used on any polygon, so I began with a square.
Where does oribotics go from here?
Oribotics will undergo further development, both conceptually and via research with the worlds leading folders. At a local level, in the immediate future, in my own practice I will continue to perfect the flower model for more exhibitions around Australia, and internationally.
Matthew Gardiner, May 2004.