Pierre Hébert (b. 1939)
Popular Explosion (1968) Music by Ornette Coleman
Around Perception (1968)
The Statue of Giordano Bruno (2005) with Bob Ostertag
Varations on Two Photographs of Tina Modotti (2005)
Pierre Hébert, recipient in 2004 of the Albert-Tessier Quebec government award for cinema, was born in 1944 in Montreal. Self taugh, strongly influenced by animation film makers Norman McLaren and Len Lye, he directed his first films independently while he was still studying Anthropology at the University of Montreal. He worked at The National Film Board of Canada from 1965 until the end of 1999. Since then he pursue his carreer as an independant artist and filmmaker. From 1996 to 1999, he was producer and director of the Animation/Youth studio of the French program of the NFB. He was first known for his abstract experimental films dealing with perception phenomena ( Op hop, Opus 3, Around perception, Fundamentals of genetics ). Later, although he always kept an experimental approach, his films became more socially and politically involved (Entre chiens et loup, Memories of war). Later, his work grew out of interdisciplinary projects ( Etienne et sara, Songs and dances of the inanimate world-the metro, O Picasso-tableaux d'une surexposition, Adieu bipèdes, La Lettre d'amour ). From 1983, he started to take part in live performances with musicians (Jean Derome, Robert M. Lepage and René Lussier, Fred Frith and Bob Ostertag) and choreographers (Ginette Laurin, Rosalind Newman, Louise Bédard and Jean-Marc Matos).
Right from his first film in 1962, Pierre Hébert has been experimenting with the animation technique of engraving images directly on 16mm or 35mm processed black film. In the eighties, he has developped a new type of performance involving "live" animation scratched directly on a film loop while it is rolling in a projector, usually associated with improvised music and occasionnally with dance. He was invited to perform in several New Music or Jazz festivals around the world (Victoriaville, Moers, Glasgow, New Music America 89, Taktlos, SchlachthofWels). He is currently expanding this live animation practice with the use of computers in the Living Cinema project along with composer Bob Ostertag.
In 1991, he started to work on is first animated feature film (La Plante humaine) based on the images improvised during the live performances of the recent years. This film was completed in 1996, released in Montreal in november 1996 and in Paris in april 1997.
From 1993 to 1995, he was president of La Cinémathèque québecoise, a film archive based in Montréal. He has also been teaching animation in various universities and writing for cinema and art magazines. In 1999, he published an essay, L’Ange et l’automate, about his work, animation and other related subjects and, in 2006, Corps, langage, technologie, a collection of articles written from 1985 to 2004.