Pierre Hébert b. 1939
Around Perception (1968)
Duration: 21 min.

Director: Pierre Hébert
Year: 1968
Time: 16 mins
Music: Pierre Hébert

Canadian animation genius Pierre Hébert started his career with studies on pure shape-driven abstraction and the limits of human perception. Around Perception is a groundbreaking experiment on computer-based animation, consisting of 11 audiovisual events designed to baffle cognition and unrest comfortable notions of reality. Unlike most of his later films, Hébert chose not to collaborate with top-notch experimental musicians and created the soundtrack himself. In this, he followed a method also used by Norman McLaren: to scratch sound directly onto the film itself. The relation between sound and picture, however, is not as symbiotic as in McLaren's Synchromy: although there are organic reactions between the two domains, one is not a direct translation of the other. This, of course, need not be seen as a weakness. Indeed, with its fast-paced changes of color and geometrical patterns, and the employment of Columbia-like richly crafted electronic tones, Around Perception works as a tremendously hallucinatory exercise in trompe l'oeil (and l'oreille) techniques. Or, as stated by Hébert himself at the beginning of the film, an exercise "for the mind and against the mind".