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  • 18 March 2017

The World of Iimen Masako

During the second day of the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival, one of the most awaited special programs of this edition has been presented: The World of Imen Masako.
Graduated at the Musashino Art University in Japan, Iimen Masako is one of the important personalities of sand animation around the world: sand animation is a particular type of animation technique which allows the artist to create stories through manipulation of sand on a backlit glass plate in real time.
The artist has said “I’ve gotten to know this particular form of art through Canadian artist, Caroline Leaf. I’ve been deeply touched by her works and I have been carrying her precious teaching in my heart”.
The artist has added that she has also been significantly inspired by the great Japanese artist Osamu Tezuka’s animations, especially for the animals featuring in her stories.

Involved in this field since almost thirty years ago, Iimen has developed a very intimate and delicate style that combines two different modalities of the sand medium: she is able to work with both images purposely meant for stop-motion editing and, at the same time, bring out moving live performances which show her hands harmoniously dancing on the scene “In my work I try to combine these different styles and adapt them to respond to different circumstances” the artist says “In live performances I am given a time limit that defines shooting and narration, while the properly animated side of my art allows me to go deeper into a story, breaking up the chronological line and analysing the different scenes”. The artist also says to be currently involved working on some TV commercials, in which she was especially requested to show her hands in motion on the scene, to emphasize her manual technique’s performative value of here and now, in contrast with other CG techniques.

During her program, the artist recalled her career introducing to the audience a selection of her most representative works. Iimen Masako debuted in the world of anime in 1987 when she created the closing theme of Kimagure Orange Road, popular both in Japan and in Italy (in the latter, known as “È quasi magia Johnny”): a video that lasts a few seconds and in which colours, music and animation are mixed together with a touching elegance. Musical box in Time instead deals with a love story between a young Japanese girl and an English carillon merchant, harmonized by the tune of that musical instrument that has bonds them forever.
Other previous works, such as Fuyuran Floating Egg or Awatourou Bubble of a Mantis, show skilful experimentations that perfectly emerge in the styles and shapes chosen by the artist and recurring in her works. Some images of the last performances held by the artist, such as Hi no tori (inspired by one of Tezuka’s works) were then shown on the screen of the Auditorium.

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