If you’ve ever been mesmerized by an intricate wallpaper design or raindrops plopping into a pool of water, you’re already on the right wavelength to appreciate Ayako Mogi’s “Ripples of Physis.” This absorbing, sometimes meandering visual essay is a film of spirals and tangents, centered on the theme of humanity’s urge to perceive order in the natural world.

Mogi, a photographer turned filmmaker, touches on a variety of disciplines — aesthetics and anthropology, history and fashion — in the course of her inquiry.

She starts and finishes at Karacho, a 400-year-old karakami (decorative paper) manufacturer in Kyoto that still uses the same original woodblocks to produce its exquisite washi (handmade paper) prints. The designs draw inspiration from nature, though also from other cultures; as 11th-generation studio master Kenkichi Senda explains, their signature Tenpyo Ogumo “floating cloud” pattern is a motif that was brought to Japan from China in the 8th century.