Of all the competitors we've seen on those "talent" shows, no singer nor dancer can even begin to compare with the originality and raw emotion elicited by Kseniya Simonova's sand art performance during the 2009 episode of Ukraine's Got Talent.
It is sheer captivation and wonder. It is art in motion. And because it is in motion it cannot be quantified nor possessed by any one person, but instead is for everyone to enjoy in that moment. Please enjoy this clip of her magnificent piece from the night she won:
The Great Patriotic War, as it is called in Ukraine, resulted in one in four of the population being killed with 8 to 11 million deaths out of a population of 42 million.
How fitting for Kseniya to relay the fear and anguish of her war-torn nation during WWII through the medium of sand--which by it's very nature is fleeting, easily caught in the wind and gone forever. It is part of the ground from whence we came and to which we will all return. It is primal and base, yet exquisitely expressive.
It must be mentioned that this piece would not be so powerful without the accompanying music, which even without understanding all the words moves one to tears. That is the manipulative power of music, used more often than we realize in film to cue an emotional response. The same is true vice versa, however; the music alone, however passionate it may be only grows in it's depth of meaning with the images to accentuate it. They truly complement each other.
Not much is written about Kseniya, mostly because she is so young (only 24, we're practically the same age!), and because she burst onto the scene only a year ago. Strange, she seems so much more mature than only 24.
All I know is that in 2008, after the financial collapse of her business, she began making sand art and entered Ukraine's Got Talent with less than a year of experience, winning her 1,000,000 Ukrainian Hryvnia (approx. $125,000). We have yet to see what she will accomplish in the near future; no doubt it will be innovative.
Whereas Simonova's art if more of a performance piece it works as animation as well; the only difference is we the viewers are privy to the artist making the changes in between the frames.
Here is an example of an actual sand animation in which we don't see the artist, Atormenta, by Madrid-based musician and animator, César Diaz, who is wickedly talented and does the most beautiful animations ever! There is so much that can be done with this novel medium, sand!
I think most great animators have a twisted sense of humor. :) Anyways, I will always hold a special place in my heart for sand animation--ever since I made one during my college years I hope to experiment with it once again in the future.
Here is a clip of my own animation (with my own twisted sense of humor); it's a short comedy entitled, Don't Mess With a Snail (with no audio), but don't expect anything profound or sweepingly beautiful like Simonova's or Diaz's work:
And so on that lighter note I will leave you with this sandy quote by English painter and poet, William Blake:
"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
and Heaven in a Flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and Eternity in an hour."