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."

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Doc-Hammer's avatar
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shaypeyote's avatar
armaina's avatar
something that I have concluded ages ago is something I feel more people need to understand:
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.
caesaraugustus's avatar
I'm all for your conclusion. Penn Gillette is actually a HUGE ASSHOLE. I lost all respect for him ages ago. He's hellbent on pissing on everyone's fun just because he has a mean nasty streak. 

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!
shaypeyote's avatar
So I tried to start a rumor on twitter that you had become less than svelt shall we say, in an attempt to smoke you out by preying on your vanity....everyone saw right through it and refused to participate in my shenanigans. Your fans love you I guess *sigh*. :)
AlCapwn's avatar
Doc is spot on. I think another angle to look at this from is how we tend to overly romanticize those who thought of and/or carried out a great idea. And we will continue to do that for any great historical figure or pop culture icon who did it first, did it best, all the way down to arguing the minutia. Laypersons even proclaim that the greats are "better than me" and we call them masters and geniuses and so on. Not that we shouldn't in some way acknowledge that they came up with a great idea or made someone's idea greater and provided some knowledge or beauteous piece of art. And I'm not saying great thinkers throughout history are simply romanticized to the point that we think they are great when they are not, we must give credit where credit is due. My point is: humans are human, there's really no reason to deify in my opinion.

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"
MadameSpank's avatar
There's a really wonderful discussion here, I enjoyed reading the responses--Thanks for facilitating, Doc.
WaffleFetish's avatar
I'm late to the party here... but:
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.
Doc-Hammer's avatar
Yeah, in a way, Tim taking 4 years to create painting in the fashion that was never used to create the original is really: "Tim took four years to learn to paint is an awkward mechanical fashion." And that's great. I'm glad Tim can now paint in this way. Vermeer didn't though.

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. 
Ladyjaney's avatar
As I'm watching this (and getting progressively more annoyed), I do have a question.  Is he correct in saying that there is an absence of lines in Vermeer's work, and if so, is this unique to Vermeer?  (I'm assuming this is a reference to underpainting in some form.)
shaypeyote's avatar
And I use a mirror CONSTANTLY when I'm animating. That's how I figure out body language and expressions!! I assumed that was low-rent until I happened to read an article about top animators and it said they ALL used mirrors.
shaypeyote's avatar
Wow ya log onto a site to swoon over a dreamy man and end up with an education!! And it has not escaped my notice that your Hendrix rant is getting high praise from the best of the best among my guitarist friends (via my copy and paste to fb). So when can we go to where your paintings are? I'm shivering with anticipation!!
Ladyjaney's avatar
You and me both, Sugar.  :happybounce: 
shaypeyote's avatar
Hey Ladyjaney!! I have something cool to share with you...check your inbox!! (that sounds dirty.....)
Ladyjaney's avatar
Haven't seen the movie yet, but why the hell are they picking on Vermeer?  Didn't a lot of painters use optics and other tools? 
HarryBuddhaPalm's avatar
They didn't.  They specifically say that he wasn't cheating when he did it.  They also repeatedly say that, even with this technique, it's very difficult and time-consuming to do.  The whole point of the experiment was to solve a mystery, not call Vermeer a cheat.  They never called him a cheater.  They never implied it.  They state the exact opposite, in fact.  They admired his ingenuity.  I don't know what the fuck Doc Hammer is talking about here, but I wonder if he even watched the fucking movie or just saw the trailer or something.  There was a great mystery about how Vermeer did his paintings.  This guy wanted to solve it.  He makes a very convincing case.  That's it.  That's all there is to it.  It's not a smear campaign.  It's not an attack.  Doc Hammer's post is complete horseshit.
Doc-Hammer's avatar
Sure. Most painters didn't have concerns about appearing to be magicians, and used whatever was available. But Vermeer really had that "optics look". Ya know, blurry highlights and stuff. Tim isn't exactly educated on such matters so Vermeer fits his criteria. But I'm not sure they're picking on him. I suspect it's something culturally deeper. Hockney also wrote a book on the masters "secrets", and it was about optics. Piece of shit book. But I think what is happening is more a backlash from the last 75 years of Art History. Too much to go into here, but I think it's a bit of guilt, fear. misunderstanding, and protecting asses. But as a natural occurrence, and not some goofy conspiracy.
Ladyjaney's avatar
I would imagine that the fact that relatively little is known about Vermeer and his process also played a part here.  Not a lot of documentation exists to refute their claims.
Doc-Hammer's avatar
No no, there are many scholars looking at Vermeer. Tim is too full of himself to give a shit about that. He knows nothing about art, and art history and doesn't claim to. But my point is Tim's impetus. Tim is gonna debunk greatness. Knock it down a peg. His arrogance is offensive. That's a Vermeer is to Tim; A machine making an object. The beauty, composition, sentimentality, visual power, etc. are not even in Tim's mind. He was raised in the wake of Conceptualism. All those words have nothing to do with "real art". He doesn't see Vermeer as art at all. He thinks he does, but he doesn't. He has no respect or understanding of it. It just scares him and makes him feel incompetent. "Art isn't supposed to do that!" He sees a Vermeer painting as a selfie snapped by a child. Tim can do that too!
Ladyjaney's avatar
Tim probably thinks "The Forger" is a documentary.

Oh man, I didn't want to spend ten bucks on Amazon to watch this thing, but now I think I have to.  God damn it.
shaypeyote's avatar
You're SO sexy when you're angry. Have you ever been experienced???...well I have......<3 ;)
ArtofAllenMorse's avatar
LOL, I agree entirely... although, in their defense, none of the principales in that movie were visual artists, either.

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...

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