Pillow of Air

A Monthly Amble Through the Visual World

by Lawrence Weschler

Tim’s Vermeer—Vermeer’s Music Lesson—Marker’s La Jetée

This being the film issue and all, I thought I’d try my hand at a piece about arguably the greatest filmmaker of all time—great-grandfather, at any rate, to all the rest of them—that being, of course, Johannes Vermeer of Delft.

The animating occasion for this meditation: the recent release of Tim’s Vermeer, the magician-skeptics Penn and Teller’s documentary film about their Texas-based inventor friend Tim Jenison and his remarkable experimental investigations into precisely how the seventeenth-century Dutch master might have been able to render all those astonishing paintings. And I should say at the outset that Jenison, for his part, comes off as a wonderfully ingenious and thoroughly congenial fellow. And who knows? He may even be right.

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Lawrence Weschler’s more than fifteen books—running from political tragedies through cultural comedies—include Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees (on artist Robert Irwin); Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (on the Museum of Jurassic Technology); Vermeer in Bosnia; Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences; and, most recently, Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative.

March/April 2014
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