What happens when the body cannot hold itself together, when unstable systems accumulate?
Faced with a connective tissue disorder, Amy Carlson’s physical challenges drive her to examine the biology behind joint laxity while seeking alternatives to handcraft. Coping explores Carlson’s instability through dynamic origami paper forms—a process requiring significant hand-folding but made accessible to her by first scoring both sides of the sheet with a laser cutter. The resulting objects are both tools for understanding biomechanics and coping mechanisms mimicking therapeutic play. The audience is encouraged to interact with the objects and feel how flexible structures determine motion.
Coping gradually coalesced from simultaneous fascinations with paper folding and small joint instability. Examples of this process are shown below, and a process journal for the project’s early development is visible here.
Finding a way to fold paper intricately without significant hand labor was vital. To do this, a laser cutter etched both sides of the paper, requiring careful registration. Using a shared machine meant realigning and testing was required for each use. Several jigs were constructed throughout the process, the final of which used plexiglass and wooden pegs to to hold the paper, and a second, wooden piece to square the plexiglass to the laser cutter.