Destructors (2013–2015)

by Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine

Each “Destructors” book sculpture is a modular combination of three or more interacting pieces. Each piece is made from a sheet of Zanders' Elephant Hide paper, or Canon's Mi-Teintes paper, that has been printed with overlapping pages from Graham Greene's short story “The Destructors” (1954). We cut the sheet into a circle with a circular hole, score centric circular creases, and fold by hand in an alternation between mountains and valleys. The paper folds itself into a natural equilibrium form based on these creases. We “weave” the pieces together by squeezing one piece to fit inside the hole of another, let these pieces relax into a natural resting state, and then glue the pieces to prevent shifting.

We loved the chaos and confusion of the movie “Donnie Darko” (2001), in which the characters are inspired by Graham Greene's (real) short story “The Destructors” (1954), whose central tenant is that “destruction after all is a form of creation”. This story seemed ideal for our process, which obscures and slices the text into an unreadable “book”. The transformation of the flat paper into swirling surfaces creates a sculptural book that feels alive.

The Destructors pieces are part of our “Language Series” that explore text printed on paper before folding.


[0361] “Destructors I” (2013), elephant hide paper, 7" × 7" × 10" high:

[0362] “Destructors II” (2013), elephant hide paper, 8" × 11" × 8" high:
(Permanent collection of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild. Part of the Art of the Book 2013 traveling exhibit.)

[0363] “Destructors III” (2013), elephant hide paper, 9" × 14" × 13" high:

[0364] “Destructors IV” (2013), Mi-Teintes paper, 8" × 12" × 9" high:

[0365] “Destructors V” (2013), Mi-Teintes paper, 10" × 13" × 11" high:

[0366] “Destructors VI” (2013), Mi-Teintes paper, 6" × 11" × 9" high:

[0367] “Destructors VII” (2013), elephant hide paper, 9" × 10" × 8" high:

[0368] “Greene Recycling / Destructors VIII” (2013), elephant hide paper, 9" × 14" × 9" high:

Original Sheet of Paper

Other Curved Crease Sculpture by Demaine & Demaine

Last updated August 4, 2023 by Erik Demaine.Accessibility