Saturday, September 26, 2009

Telling Stories with Sand

You know I spend a lot of time surfing the interweb and I have seen some amazing things on the web. I have never seen anything like this before. I've watched this several times already and still am amazed each time.

Kseniya Simonova, the winner of Ukraine's Got Talent, has become a YouTube phenomenon by telling stories through sand animation. In this video:

"She recounts Germany conquering Ukraine in the second world war. She brings calm, then conflict. A couple on a bench become a woman's face; a peaceful walkway becomes a conflagration; a weeping widow morphs into an obelisk for an unknown soldier. Simonova looks like some vengeful Old Testament deity as she destroys then recreates her scenes - with deft strokes, sprinkles and sweeps she keeps the narrative going. She moves the judges to tears as she subtitles the final scene "you are always near".

it's clear that Simonova has achieved her goal as an artist. If we take it that art's purpose is to illuminate the world in a new way, provoke a reaction, somehow alter the consciousness of the viewer then her work is a huge success. And that high art can come from a format [ukraine's got talent] that produced Stavros Flatley and that it can be popularised and sent around the world is surely some kind of modern miracle."
Watch this video. Really. Watch this video. It is so worth the time.

"What she depicts is love and war, set amidst the turmoil of WWII. Ukraine was probably the area most devastated in the war, even more than Germany. It was a conflict that saw nearly one in four Ukrainians killed. A population of almost 42 million lost between 8 and 11 million people, depending on which estimate one references. Ukraine represented almost 20 percent of all the causalities suffered during WWII. And that was after Stalin had killed millions during the manufactured famines before the war. It to this day touches every Ukrainian. That's the context of war memory that Kseniya reaches out to.

The sand art of Kseniya is set to music that reflects the tone of what she is trying to project, and the combined effect works very well. Sand animators use simple grains of sand to tell a story, in a way many people haven't seen before. What Kseniya Seminova does in a few short minutes is all the more memorable because it is so fleeting. Once she is finished, the grains of sand go back into containers and the art is swept away."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Remembering Herbert Isonaga, 442nd RCT

I just heard that Herbert Isonaga passed away. "Herbie" was a member of the VVV and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Headquarters Company and a friend. After I heard the news, I wanted to honor and remember his life. . .

Herbert Isonaga was born in 1921 in Koloa, Kauai. His family operated Isonaga Store, which supplied Filipino bachelors employed by Koloa Sugar Company with iriko (parched small sardine), shrimp, bagoong (fermented fish sauce), codfish and various canned goods. Trousers, shirts, lunch pail bags and tabi (Japanese socks), all sewn by Herbert’s mother, were also available

Of the 50 or 60 in his class at Koloa School, only 20, including Herbert, continued their studies at Kauai High School. Winning by one vote, “Landslide” Isonaga was elected senior class president. He went on to attend college at the University of Oregon and the University of Hawaii.

Herbert participated in the discussions and planning of the Varsity Victory Volunteers (VVV). He left college to join the VVV to be a part of the war effort. He then volunteered for the 442nd RCT. Herbert was assigned to the antitank platoon of Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion and served admirably with the 442nd RCT in Italy and France.

After the war, Herbert graduated with a degree in business from UH. He operated a bookstore near the university. Later, he ran Herbie’s Drive-In. After selling his business to KC Drive-In, Herbert went into real estate with Hung Wai Ching.

Herbert married Sue Kobatake on March 26, 1949. They had three children.

I thought Herbert was both charming and sweet. My last memory of him is at a reception honoring Moriso Teraoka. Herbie came up and gave me a big hug.

Herbert Isonaga is one of my heroes. . .I am so grateful I got to meet him and tell his story.

Farewell Herbert!

“The greatest thing that happened to the AJA community was World War II. The 442nd and the 100th did a great service to the AJA community and ourselves for having served. I take great pride in that.

I sincerely feel that the recognition we deserve has been offered to us in many, many ways. Primarily in the opportunities that it has offered us.”- Herbert Isonaga

Please read the rest of his story: