54.2 F

Davis, California

Friday, March 1, 2024

A Living Cinema

On Apr. 21, Canadian artist and animator Pierre Hébert will appear in Davis to discuss his work in the fields of animation and live drawing. The event is sponsored by the technocultural studies and film studies departments and will be held in the TCS building (formerly the Art Annex) throughout the day, starting at 11 a.m.

Known for his abstract and progressive methods of animation and live performances, Hébert will discuss the history of animation and the unique technique of film scratchingthe method of creating an animated, living image by physically scratching the film itself. The event will also include a demonstration of techniques for live improvisation, film scratching and hand drawn computer animation as well as a lecture on the history of animation. Hébert will perform some of his current work at 7:30 p.m.

His feature film La Plante Humaine will be shown in the TCS building at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. All of the events are free.

Hébert, a lifelong artist born in 1944, has embraced the growing world of technology throughout his career. As an artist that utilizes technology’s ever-changing nature, Hébert works to balance loose art with technical precision.

His current work involves a concept known asLiving Cinema,a term he said partially incorporates the live aspect of his performances and his approach to cinema that transcends technological borders.

My work has always been in a way technologically driven,Hébert said.There was always this dichotomy between very crude physical work done by hand and the processing of that work with sophisticated technological tools.

This somewhat polarized interest is reflected in Hébert’s scratch animation, which was his main focus for over 25 years of his career. The technique was inspired by animator and filmmaker Norman McLarenone of Hébert’s most substantial influences.

“It seemed to be really something I could connect with very easily,Hébert said.It became something that often times I describe as my own voice or my own breathsomething to which I could physically relate to with pleasure.

But new waves of technology present both gifts and problems for anyone in the field. Criticism and changes in the direction of animation began to alienate Hébert, eventually leading him to a wider array of artistic interests including film, scratch animation and live performance art.

I very quickly understood that I had to follow my own way, and not worry too much about my position in that world of animation,Hébert said.I very quickly decided that I was a filmmaker and not an animation filmmaker.

This period saw an exploration of different interests and closer collaboration with other artists such as technocultural studies professor Bob Ostertag, who specializes in avant-garde sound experimentation and programming. Hébert and Ostertag began working together to infuse sound with visual performance.

But despite the new wave of technology, Hébert doesn’t see his old interests astraditional.He views his work as an effortto maintain the presence of the body actions within technology” – a continued balance between the crude and the precise. This theme still persists in his current work.

When I was an undergraduate, I remember very well that probably my most meaningful experiences were with visiting artists,Ostertag said.I think there’s a way that students can interact with a visiting artist who is sort of just here for a brief period of time. The artist gets very focused and nobody grades anybodyit’s about real curiosity.

Hébert said that he learns a lot about his own work by observing how students react to it.

“Being in contact with students is something I really enjoy a lot. That has become quite important for me, actually,he said.

Film studies and women and gender studies director Liz Constable emphasized the importance of the opportunity to learn from Canadian film and digital media cultures.

“Expanding our understanding of the Americas to include the creative cultures of French-speaking Canada is so important,she said.

For more information about the artist, visit pierrehebert.com.


JUSTIN T. HO can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.



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