Inventor Spends Five Years Trying to Determine if Vermeer’s Paintings Are 350-year-old Color Photos 

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Photograph of Tim Jenison via Boing Boing

It has long been suspected that some of the old masters may have relied on optical devices such as the camera lucida to help with scale and proportion in their paintings, leading to more lifelike interpretations of landscapes and portraits. Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor and computer graphics specialist, became obsessed with one such painter: Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, who created such realistic paintings that they seemed to have more in common with photography than paint. Could Vermeer have created a system for replicating scenes in front of him using lenses and mirrors?

Jenison embarked on an experiment to recreate one of Vermeer’s most famous paintings, The Music Lesson. It’s an obsession that would consume five years of his life involving the actual construction of the entire room seen in the painting down to the most minute details, the (re)invention of a 17-century optical technology using period-appropriate tools and materials, and then seven months spent painting.

The entire endeavor was filmed and turned into a documentary titled Tim’s Vermeer, the trailer of which you can see above. The film began its theatrical run in January, but just became available as a Blu-ray combo pack and digital download today. Jenison also wrote a detailed article about the entire step-by-step process that was published yesterday on Boing Boing.

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The New Pathe Foundation Headquarters by Renzo Piano Squeezed Into a City Block in Paris 

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all photos copyright Michel Denancé

For the last 8 years the Pathe Foundation in Paris has worked with Pritzker-winning architect Renzo Piano to design and construct their new headquarters. Slated for a grand opening this September, photos have emerged that reveal, in the architect’s own words, “an unexpected presence”: a curved bulbous structure that looks like it’s been squeezed into an opening within a historic Parisian city block. “The art of inserting a new building into an historic city block,” says Piano, “means engaging in an open, physical dialogue with the existing city buildings.” In other words, it’s an exercise in reclaiming space.

Hidden mostly behind buildings, the new headquarters, which will promote the Pathe’s heritage in cinematography with office spaces, film archives and a screening room, pokes its head out above the neighbors, looking like a giant armadillo. Walking by, an unsuspecting visitor would have no idea was behind that street-side facade. (via Designboom)

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Northern White-faced Owl Assists Illustrator Using Tablet 

Apropos of nothing, here’s a quick video of a Japanese illustrator who goes by the name Satsuma, working with a Northern white-faced owl perched on his hand. The clip is humourous in and of itself, but it’s especially fascinating to see the stabilization of the bird’s head and eyes while he works. Strangely mesmerizing. (via Tastefully Offensive)

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Sliced Glass ‘Paintings’ and Portraits by Loren Stump 

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California-based glass artist Loren Stump specializes in a form of glasswork called murrine, where rods of glass are melted together and then sliced to reveal elaborate patterns and forms. While the murrina process appeared in the Mideast some 4,000 years ago, Stump has perfected his own technique over the past 35 years to the point where he can now layer entire portraits and paintings in glass before slicing them to see the final results. His most complex piece to date is a detailed interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks, which involved hundreds of glass components that were melted into a final piece. You can see more of Stump’s 2D and 3D work over on his website. (via Lost at E Minor)

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An Edible Zen Rock Garden Made From Japanese Sweets 

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Zen rock gardens are typically composed of carefully placed rocks, surrounded by sand that is raked to represent water ripples. They’re supposed to inspire a meditative state of calm and relaxation. They’re not supposed to inspire hunger and a sudden urge to put it in your mouth. Except this one does because it’s made of entirely edible ingredients. “In cities today, people do not have the luxury of gazing at gardens,” says Japanese designer Tomonori Saito, lamenting the loss of one his nation’s most relaxing pastimes. So he decided to create “Shin-an-ji Rock Garden” made from black sesame (the rocks) and sugar (the sand). Now you can have your garden and eat it too. (syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

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Iceland Infrared: Stark Photographs of Icelandic Landscapes by Andy Lee 

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Iceland, with its extreme landscapes, jagged lava fields and Northern Lights, is arguably one of the most photogenic countries in the world. So it’s no surprise that over half a million tourists flock there every year to shoot the landscape. But UK-based photographer Andy Lee, on his first visit to the country, came back with a series of photos titled “Blue Iceland” that captured the waterfalls, peaks and roads in, literally, a whole new light. Using infrared photography to pick up invisible light rather than visible light, Lee transformed Iceland into a series of stark, moody and somewhat dreamlike silhouettes. At times the austere rock formations and glowing waterfalls almost appear to be painted. You can see much more of Lee’s work over on his portfolio site. In the words of Lee himself, “Infrared and Iceland, a match made in heaven.” (via PetaPixel)

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