Sand animation moves fairgoers

August 03, 2007|By Jessie Brunner

William Blake saw the world in a grain of sand. Give Ferenc Cakó a few grains, and he can create just about anything.

Closing his three-week engagement at the Orange County Fair, the self-proclaimed Sand Animation Master dazzles audiences by transforming Danube sand into moving pictures, using nothing but the 10 digits of his right and left hands, a video projector and a large screen.

"It was fascinating," said Jacques Zell, who immigrated from Hungary 60 years ago and came to the fair Wednesday with his wife expressly to see Cakó's show.


"I told him to go to Hollywood."

With quick and seemingly effortless movements, Cakó tells the story of man's creation in just 19 minutes, beginning with a Phoenix and ending with Adam, Eve and the infamous serpent.

Finger taps create stars. The wave of his hand is a woman's flowing mane. A fresh canvas is born with the flick of his wrist.

And it's all set to the melodious compositions of classical composers, such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms.

"It's almost therapeutic," said audience member Kathy Brook-Wong. "It was so graceful that it was healing."

The son of a famed Hungarian painter, Cakó was introduced to art at a young age. He concentrated on claymation films for many years, earning several awards, and settled on sand after experimenting with various other media.

"I tried everything — coffee, sugar, salt, all kinds of powders," Cakó said, adding that he prizes fine, quartz-based river sand for its translucence.

He started performing in small venues and children's theaters and 13 years later, he's booked 12 months out of the year at venues all over the world, including Chile, Dubai and China.

The fair marks his first public engagement in the United States.

"With sand animation, the audience can really get involved in the process of creation," said Cakó's manager, Tamas Mundrucz. "A sculptor or a painter makes art at home."

With more than 30 animations committed to memory, Cakó constantly strives to find new stories that relate to a broad audience. He begins by selecting the music, and from there, the tale comes to life.

"It can take a year from the music to create [a piece]," he said. "You have to draw fast and simple."

As the fair wraps up the weekend, catch Cako's final performances at 8:15 and 10 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday.

— Heidi Schultheis contributed to this report.

  • JESSIE BRUNNER may be reached at (714) 966-4632 or at

    TO DO


    With a new twist on an old favorite, the Flying U Rodeo will thrill fairgoers with such stunts as the Toro Totter, Six-Man Wild Cow Race, and the legendary Ring of Fire. It begins at 8 p.m. in the O.C. Register Arena.


    As the lead vocalist for the Black Eyed Peas and now making a career of her own with the release of her solo album "The Dutchess," Fergie is sure to heat up the stage at the Pacific Amphitheatre tonight.

    The show begins at 7 p.m.


    The competition heats up as 4-month-old pigs race for the finish line and tackle 15-inch hurdles at the pig-racing stadium in the Livestock Area. Today's races begin at 3, 5 ,7 and 9 p.m.

    To see a staff photo gallery of the Orange County Fair, click here.

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