Tag Archives: Vermeer

Tim’s Vermeer

3 Feb
<i>Tim's Vermeer</i>

During a casual conversation with pals Penn and Teller (yes, the performance comedy team that performs droll acts of sleight-of-hand), Tim Jenison tossed out the idea that the great 17th century painter, Johannes Vermeer, might have generated his masterworks via a controlled methodology—which could conceivably be replicated—and not sheer artistic eye and a deft free hand. Given the movie’s being, that conversation obviously budded into a dare and/or a personal obsession.

Jenison, a quiet, pontificating soul and inventor by trade who made his nut in video software, possesses a bulldog tenacity and keen acumen. He’s the kind of guy who sees a problem and goes off and tinkers until he can remedy it with a working solution. His theory, that Vermeer used a process called “camera obscura” (the projection of a lighted image through a hole in a box or a room to create a smaller inverted rendering on the opposing surface outside the container) as an on canvas guide (think of tracing in its most complex form) for his creations is piquant and intriguing in its infantile illumination. The centuries old technique, now largely a schoolroom experiment, became the foundation for the modern camera and moving pictures. Vermeer, if he employed it, didn’t have any well-oiled machinery or electricity, just light and a hole.  Continue reading