Penn & Teller Put Art to the Test in Delightful Doc Tim's Vermeer




Essential viewing for anyone interested in art history, the scientific method, or just observing a recreation of one of the most important moments in the evolution of the artistic process, Tim's Vermeer would fit perfectly with The Belcourt's current “Science on Screen” series. It's not what one would probably expect from the first feature to be directed by Teller (and yes, Penn Jillette is along for the ride as narrator), but it's a fun, perceptive look at how the human mind solves problems.

When Video Toaster inventor/philanthropist Tim Jenison became fascinated with 17th century Dutch painting, he noticed representational aspects that didn't correspond to how the human eye works. With his background in optics, he kept digging deeper until he found the Hockney-Falco Thesis: namely, that Vermeer employed a camera obscura construction. If this were the case, shouldn't anyone using the same set-up be able to produce a work as photorealistic as Vermeer's?

Being a person with the means and spare time to give it a shot, Jenison proceeded to recreate the working and light conditions of the 17th century Netherlands in an attempt to prove his thesis. The result is a taut, funny and revelatory 80 minutes — and an absolute must-see for anyone with the capacity to be wowed. Tim's Vermeer opens Friday at Green Hills.

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