Monday, March 12, 2012

Drawing Lines in the Sand

A few months ago, I went to a day-long conference in Macerata in the Marche region of Italy. In the U.S. such meetings have coffee breaks between weighty panels, speeches, and presentations, but at this one, musical and other performances gave the audience a chance to rest.

A unique presentation by sand animation artist Silvia Emme captivated the audience. Her performance introduced most of us to this art form, and her creativity amazed us. We applauded each time she returned to the stage.

She works on a light table with an overhead camera that projects her creation onto a screen visible to the audience. Emme prepares the surface by brushing off sand left from her last performance and tossing and sprinkling on fresh sand for the new one.

Carefully choreographed to music, each performance begins with Emme quickly cutting broad swaths through the sand with both hands. As the design becomes more complex, she shifts to her dominant hand to apply fine touches. Her curly locks bob and bounce on the lower edge of the frame as she works.

Growing up in a family of photographers, Emme began taking drawing lessons while in elementary school. In interviews with Italian journalists, Emme has said that she searched for a new art form and became fascinated by the work of Ilana Yahav and began working in the medium.

Emme approaches her light table as if it were a canvas; her hands are the brushes. Each performance is unique, and while each work is destroyed upon completion, video records allow her work to be immortalized.

For her final performance of the day in Macerata, Emme was paired with a musical duo—a violinist and a pianist. The two were so engrossed in coordinating the beginning of their music that they forgot about Emme  and began playing before her light table was ready. The audience could see horror on her face as she spoke to someone off stage. But behaving like the true professional that she is, she began working and captivated us once more. 

For additional examples of her work, visit:


Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane said...

This form of art is new to me. Fabulous! One of the advantages of expat life is learning about interesting and exciting events, arts, customs and so on that you might not learn about at home. Keeps the creative juices flowing.

Patricia Winton said...

Glad you enjoyed the post. She was a delight to watch. As far as I can tell, there are only three artists in Italy doing this type of work, and she is the youngest.