Part of Fall 2009
A co-presentation with SOUNDplay
Québec pioneer animator Pierre Hébert returns to SOUNDplay after his appearance last year with Living Cinema. This time he is joined by BC electroacoustic musician Stefan Smulovitz for two performances of live digital animation and sound art for their new collaborative work Robert’s Creek. Also included is a program of animation works by Toronto artists curated by Nick Fox-Gieg for Pleasure Dome. Performance is preceded by the videomusic work “a sudden change in the consistency of snow” by Peter V. Swendson.
Oct 23rd & 24th Programme:
Lesley Loksi Chan – Curse Cures
Jesse Ewles – An Eluardian Instance
Rachel Peters – Nagasaki Circus
Howie Shia – Flutter
Evan Tapper – Tumor
Robert’s Creek (2009) Music: Stefan Smulovitz Live Animation: Pierre Hébert
Improvisation (2009) Music: Stefan Smulovitz Live Animation: Pierre Hébert 30:00 (2009)
a sudden change in the consistency of snow (2008) by Peter V. Swendsona sudden change in the consistency of snow is an interpretation of that kind of early-winter snow that is almost sleet or hail, changing all the time, sometimes softening enough to bestow the lovely winter quiet that exists when everything is covered and dampened with snow, but other times quite hard and sharp and percussive as it bounces on frozen surfaces.
Each time there’s a change in the technology used to make moving pictures, auteur animators take the lead in experimenting with the new tools on offer. Locavore, a survey of recent short animation work from Toronto, documents this evolutionary process at work.
Robert’s Creek (2009)
Robert’s Creek is where Stefan Smulovitz lives, on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver. When Pierre Hébert visited him last February, he shot some images of the very powerful nature of this area and it became the basis of an improvisational piece they presented in Montréal last May as a work in progress. It comes as a mixture of live improvised animation keyed over processed live action shots. Smulovitz will improvise with his viola over a ground of edited nature sounds It is a meditation on the creek that runs in the back of his house.
To conclude their performance, Hébert and Smulovitz will present an open improvisation.
Pierre Hébert, born in Montreal in 1944, was studying anthropology with a view to a career in Nordic archaeology when he began to draw and scratch home-made films directly on to celluloid: Histoire verte (1962), Histoire d’une bébite (1962), Petite histoire méchante (1963), Opus 1 (1964). At the same time he was contributing to the magazine Objectif, and illustrated L’afficheur hurle, a collection of poems by Paul Chamberland. After joining the NFB in 1965, he made Op Hop – Hop Op (1966), followed by Opus 3 (1967), Autour de la perception/Around Perception (1968) and Notions élémentaires de génétique/Fundamental Principles in Genetics (1971), four abstract films, as well as Explosion démographique/Population Explosion (1967), an educational film.
The second, more political period of his career was inspired by years of activism and close study of the works of Marx and Brecht: Père Noël, père Noël /Santa Claus is Coming Tonight (1974), Entre chiens et loup (1978), Souvenirs de guerre/Memories of War (1982). For Étienne et Sara, a transitional film completed in 1984, he collaborated with the Belgian poet Serge Meurant. Now for the first time he was taking an interdisciplinary approach. The films that followed – Chants et danses du monde inanimé – Le métro/Songs and Dances of the Inanimate World: The Subway (1985), Ô Picasso – Tableaux d’une surexposition (1985), Adieu bipède (1987) – brought him into close collaboration with improvisational musicians, which encouraged him to attempt scratching film live, in front of an audience. He did this for the first time in 1986 during Jean Derome’s multidisciplinary show Confitures de gagaku. It was followed by other performances, including Adieu bipède (1987) and Adieu Leonardo (1987). The short film La lettre d’amour (1988) and the feature-length La plante humaine (1996) represent the apogee of this period of intense creative activity.
From 1996 to 1999, Hébert was director of the NFB’s French animation studio, and produced a number of films, including Michèle Cornoyer’s Le chapeau/The Hat (1999), the last film he produced.
He then left the NFB and continued to pursue a rigorously demanding career, giving a series of performances with the American musician Bob Ostertag and creating digital works as an independent filmmaker: Between Science and Garbage (2003), Variations sur deux photographies de Tina Modotti (2004), La statua di Giordano Bruno (2005) and The Technology of Tears (2005). He also published two books on animation film, L’ange et l’automate (1999, Les 400 coups) and Corps, langage, technologie (2005, Les 400 coups). In 2004 the government of Quebec awarded him the Albert-Tessier Prize.
Vancouver-based Stefan Smulovitz (b. 1971) is a highly accomplished musician (viola & laptop) and composer. As a performer he is renowned for his “quicksilver ability to morph and manipulate sound via digital technology” (Georgia Straight) Transforming the laptop into an instrument using his custom software Kenaxis. Stefan has performed with many of the worlds top improvisers including: Evan Parker, Uri Caine, Mark Dresser, Fred Frith, Paul Plimley, Francois Houle, Jesse Zubot, Peggy Lee, Mark Feldman, and the NOW Orchestra. With his band Eye of Newt Stefan has created over 60 live scores for film. His interdisciplinary project Gesture4 with vocalist Viviane Houle, dancer Noam Gagnon, and visual artist Jamie Griffiths was just selected by the Georgia Straight as one of the top 12 events of 2007.
His electro-acoustic works have won a national Canadian award (JTTP). In 2006he won the prestigious Vancouver New Music Chamber Music Competition for his piece for 12 players plus electronics entitled “the still unanswered question.”
Stefan’s compositions have been performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Turning Point, Ensemble Symposium, Chor Leoni, Elektra, and at the Sonic Boom Festival from 2002-2007. Most recently the Standing Wave Ensemble premiered a new work as part of the 2008 Alcan Award for Music.