So some guy buys an old Jimi Hendrix album and just loves it. It’s so beautiful. Geezus just listen to that solo! But how was it done? Was Jimi a magician with super powers? He must be!
Time passes and the guy starts ‘understanding’ what he’s listening to. “Wait!” says the guy in a moment of arrogance that he thinks is clarity “That’s a guitar! It’s just a piece of wood with strings. That’s the trick. I thought this beautiful sound was coming out of Jimi’s ass, but it’s a trick. It’s a guitar!” So this guy buys a guitar. He has plenty of cash and even more self confidence so it’s a drop in bucket. Why? He’s going to play a Jimi Hendrix solo. Is he inspired and wants to learn to play the guitar, and ya know, write songs and stuff? Hell the fuck no! Jimi didn’t do that! This guy knows exactly how Jimi made art. I mean, if it’s even art. He cheated! He used wooden tools and amplifiers. Yeah, this guy is gonna show the world that there’s a trick to making those sounds, and in no way is Jimi a visionary or even an artist. It’s all a trick. So he sits there with his guitar and can’t play a fucking note and it doesn’t matter. Ya see, he knows that Jimi couldn’t either, and this guy is gonna prove it. He’s gonna debunk Jimi Hendrix.
So this guy invents a little gadget (He names it the Note-u-lator) that that plays each single note on the CD that Jimi plays in this guy’s chosen solo. It just plays it over and over. Then the guy takes his guitar and plays every note on the neck of his guitar till it matches the CD's corresponding note. Then on his “Record-u-lator” he sounds the correct note. The duration of each note is measured by using a sun dial. Those are available at your local hardware store. “Oh Jimi! I got you now.” He does this over and over. It’s painstaking, but hey, This is what Jimi did. It takes this guy four fucking years to finish his solo. But at the end it was so worth it. Here it is, proof that Jimi Hendrix Was just a goofy old mechanic, and anyone with four years and a whatever-u-lator can do the same thing. I mean, this guy has a bloodless, stilted copy of Jimi’s solo! It’s proof! And I for one will never look at Jimi’s songs the same. He’s a fraud!
Why am I telling this ridiculous story? Because I saw 'Tim’s Vermeer' last night. Penn and Teller should be ashamed of themselves for being so afraid of any art they can’t make that they need to debunk it. Yeah, Vermeer used optics. He’s not a fucking wizard, he’s a painter. He’s not magic, he is just a hard working visionary. He’s like Jimi Hendrix, who used tools and discipline to write and perform songs. Fuck you, Tim, you self obsessed turd, for not just taking an art class. Your conclusion was embarrassing. Debunk Wu Tang Clan next: "Wait! That's just a part of someone else's song! They cheated! I can do this! Just give me four years and I'll make a bad copy of C.R.E.A.M. ... Because I'm a fucking idiot."
There is no 'cheating' in art. The only thing that matters is if you are honest with what you do.
For centuries there has always been something in the art world have attempted to create a standard for what 'falsifies' a piece of art. New and convenient tools were dismissed as 'cheating', creating this false hierarchy art vs not art, solely so that some few can have 'bragging rights' while others can't. So many rules that suddenly art no longer becomes art but just a regurgitation of what someone else tells you, you are supposed to be making.
Tools are meant to be used, and no matter what the tool is or how 'convenient' it might make the process, the person wielding the tool is what makes it what it is. Dismissing a technique, toolset, style, material, format, or anything else that might apply, as 'cheating' does far more harm to art, and especially those perusing it, than any thing else possibly could.
That having been said... Artist David Hockney did almost the exact same thing.
However: In the last few years, BOTH conclusions have been DEBUNKED.
No one knows how Vermeer did it except him.
Now make me some cartoons, dammit!
So it's pretty odd that when some people learn how the artist came up with the idea/learn how to imitate the work ourselves, it's like seeing Frank Morgan behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, that magic, that was created in our own minds, to whatever degree, is diminished. So we think "I can do that" and "they're not so great", it's very odd. Maybe that's inevitable, but even after you learn how the artist did what they did and you have a much greater understanding of how it was made (or you think you do) than when you first thought it was beautiful, that shouldn't stop you from enjoying it, it's weird that people get that way, their understanding makes them think they have to be all haughty about it now or something. If anything that knowledge should make you appreciate it more (like Doc said). To the point WaffleFetish made: if they hadn't been obsessed with said band, maybe they wouldn't have played guitar as much, they might not play guitar at all. I would say that's quite beautiful. Even if the music is simplistic compared to jazz, it's still music and I don't know about you, but I like music, almost all music. In fact I'm willing to bet even Thelonius Monk probably thought Thelonius Monk was simplistic from time to time. As if simplicity were a bad thing... Words words words blah blah blah.
Just bite the pillow and enjoy it for crying out loud.... "it" being "art"... "art" being my foot-long double-dildo that I call "art"
I spent years practicing, but failing to get any better at, guitar. There was one band in particular who's melody and tone were especially attractive to me. I couldn't, for the life of me, reproduce the sound they were getting, despite using very similar equipment. I studied their recording techniques and practically stalked them to try to understand why I couldn't reproduce their tone.
Eventually, I ran into their guitar tech while they we're playing in Portland and learned that they used a little-known variant of a popular but non-standard tuning.
I immediately went home and tried it, and found that every other fret produced a barr chord and that I could reproduce any of their songs using, essentially, one finger. Improvising using that tuning was easy, and required NO SKILL. The years of practice really felt like they were for nothing.
I haven't listened to any of their albums since that day. It was as though I was watching a magic trick that had been revealed beforehand.
Perhaps that makes me petty. I don't think it's wrong to be less impressed by learning that an artist who had demonstrated nearly faustian skill was, in fact, tracing in color. Yes, he composed the scenes he traced and that certainly takes a measure of vision that Tim doesn't demonstrate, but all of these things can be learned.
Anything can be learned, and knowledge is power. Tim has thus gained some measure of power over something that he had previously not understood, and therefore feared. This is a demonstration of Foucalt's principle, not a damning of Vermeer.
Maybe the larger question is "Why do we love Vermeer?" Well, it's not because he is the worlds most miraculously accurate painter, it's because his paintings are appealing. The modern love of his works started when the National Gallery did a retrospective of him and the placed his little known "Girl With The Pearl earrings" on the cover of their magazine. People just responded to it because she was simply appealing. He made a beautiful image. Creating beauty is, as you say, a "Faustian act" in my opinion. Look, my mom can push a button and have a picture of a girl in one second. But will it be iconically beautiful? No (sorry Mom). My point is that thinking that Vermeer's method is all of Vermeer is Tim's largest act of arrogance.
This plays into your love of a guitar sound that you found out was simply alternate tuning. You clearly loved the sound. You heard the invention in it. You responded to it as we do when something is beautiful. How could that beauty fade when you learned the fingering isn't impossible? I mean, when I figure out a song I love on guitar I also learn how idiotically simple it is. My response is "You clever bastard! Damn ,why didn't I think of that!" And I fall more in love with it for it's cleanliness and simplicity. Its beauty is now, in my mind, like the effortless beauty of someone blessed with good genes. It's still beautiful, and now almost more beautiful because it is just song writing and not gymnastics.
You state that you may be "petty" for abandoning something you loved because it wasn't created in the way you first thought it was. I'm not sure I'd call it petty. But I do think you may have abandoned beauty because you found out its perfect lips were made so with lipstick. You're an idealist, not petty. But in the end, you lost your favorite band from it.
A lot of art historians have been saying for a long time that Vermeer was dependent on some sort of optics, so for a bunch of non-artists (and, in particular, an engineer and an illusionist) it seems like a natural leap to make.
I'm actually not at all convinced that Vermeer used any optics at all. The gesture of his models is too relaxed, too... "uncontrived," for me to believe that optics played a large part in any of his compositions.
For that matter: all of his works match very strict and very accurate compositional armatures, which simply would not have been possible with optics. And that, in and of itself, combined with his masterful use of color and glazing techniques, and his use of selective focus and "houding," (of which, along with Rembrandt, Vermeer is the greatest of masters) kinda argue against any cheats at all, as far as I'm concerned.
I haven't seen the documentary yet, but I am already expecting it to be a joke when I do sit down I n front of it. But for anyone else who thinks there might be anything of real historical significance regarding Vermeer's work most reviewers seem to agree that it's pretty much bunk.
Awesome review, though, lol...