Tim's Vermeer

A self-described “video engineer with a wacky hobby,” San Antonio inventor Tim Jenison inserted himself into a historical controversy after reading the theories of art scholar Philip Steadman and painter David Hockney that Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer had used some sort of camera obscura to create his highly realistic paintings. In his spare time Jenison set out to re-create that reflecting device and, despite a complete lack of drawing or painting experience, reproduce Vermeer’s 1660s painting The Music Lesson; the idea so fascinated his friend Penn Gillette, the stage illusionist, that he assembled a documentary around it, directed by his silent partner, Teller. The entertainers inject some much-needed comedy into the enterprise, as Jenison realizes what an incredibly boring and painstaking task he’s set himself, yet they also pose fascinating questions about the nature of art-making and the limitations of the human eye.