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.
Just announced today, The Sand Storm is a short film directed by New York filmmaker Jason Wishnow that was shot completely under the radar in China, starring none other than dissident artist Ai Weiwei in his acting debut. How such an audacious and risky endeavor came into being is pretty mind-blowing given the heavy amount of surveillance surrounding the artist. The movie takes place in a dystopian future where Ai Weiwei plays the role of a smuggler in a world without water.
The existence of The Sand Storm was kept heavily under wraps while shooting in Beijing. Ai Weiwei has been closely watched by the government since his 2011 imprisonment and authorities still have yet to return his passport. While the short film has already been shot beginning to end, the filmmakers are raising a bit of money on Kickstarter to finish the movie and recoup some costs as crowdfunding beforehand was too risky. Had this been announced yesterday I would have assumed it was a hoax.
Update: At the moment it appears the Kickstarter has been halted due to a dispute.
Watching any film by Wes Anderson it’s impossible to ignore the director’s obsessive visual aesthetic. From his harmonizing use of color to impeccably constructed sets, every minute detail is considered and designed. Korean filmmaker Kogonada just released this supercut of one particular Anderson hallmark: the use of perfectly centered shots. Kogonada has become well-known for his videos that isolate the visual tools of directors including pieces on Kubrick, Malick, and Tarantino. (via Coudal)
Painter, muralist, ceramicist, lithographer, designer and kite maker Tyrus Wong was born in China in 1910 and emigrated to the United States with his father at the age of 9. As a child his teachers noticed he possessed exceptional artistic skills which would land him a scholarship at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. By 1930 he was working in Hollywood for Warner Bros. and from 1938 to 1941 he became a “Disney inspirational sketch artist” where his lush pastel drawings of forests and deer would serve as inspiration for the movie Bambi where he served as lead artist on the film. Wong retired in 1968 and began a second career of making kites which he would fly on the Santa Monica Pier. He is now 103 years old.
Update: It’s also been brought to my attention that the Walt Disney Family Foundation in San Francisco actually just held a retrospective exhibition for Wong called Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong. If you’re interested, the catalog for that exhibition is available here. (thnx, Kelly!)
Somewhere on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, nestled at the foot of a desert mountain range, sits a peculiar sight that is almost completely out of place: hundreds of seats for an outdoor movie theater. Estonian photographer Kaupo Kikkas recently visited the desolate location and brought back these amazing shots of a decaying dream. He shares via his blog that the theater was built not too long ago by a man from France with considerable means. Tons of old seats and a generator were hauled in from Cairo, not to mention a giant screen that looked like the sail of a ship.
Everything was set for opening night, with one small problem. Kikkas says the locals weren’t particularly keen on the whole idea and decided to discreetly sabotage the generator. A single movie was never screened. So now it sits in the middle of a desert, a random movie theater that was never used. You can still see it on Google Maps. (via Lustik, Abandoned Geography)
Currently in production at Oscar-winning studio BreakThru Films, Loving Vincent will be the first feature-length animated film made solely through hand-painted canvases. The movie will examine the life of post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh and the circumstances surrounding his violent and mysterious death some 123 years ago. Understandably, the production for Loving Vincent is no easy task and requires the help of 70 (!) painters who will help create the numerous hand-painted oil canvases required to bring the story to life. The team is currently appealing to the public on Kickstarter to help raise funds to complete the movie. (via The Awesomer)
Y’know that moment in every TV show and film ever made where the computer/jukebox/radio/appliance stops working and out of desperation the exasperated lead character gives it a good whack? Duncan Robson scoured decades of popular televsion shows and movies to find dozens of nearly identical moments and gathered them together in Percussive Maintenance. If you liked this also check out Gravity (the same idea but with people falling). (via Laughing Squid)