Jean-Pierre Hebert’s works recall the fluid continuities produced with analog devices but with the control and range of experimentation afforded only by the digital world. He programs his own work, based on equations from physics governing water flow, gravity and other natural phenomena as well as those found in music and astrophysics. He is Artist in Residence at UC Santa Barbara’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.
The work displays a timeless spirituality and emotion that many did not think could be expressed with the rudimentary equipment at first available to him. Although the idea of plotter drawing may seem entirely mechanical, to hear Hebert describe it, it is an active, hands-on process. Pens with fresh ink had to be inserted at exactly the right time. For large pieces, the drawing process could take up to 60 hours, during which the artist had to remain awake and ready to replace pens or intercede if ink blobbed up. A single jostle or printer glitch would mean starting everything over.
Hebert’s entrancing works caught the attention of a New York City gallery in the 1980s and they were ready. to put together a show–but when they discovered the means of production (he had withheld that based on previous experiences), they rudely dismissed him.