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Tim’s Vermeer: A documentary of a contemporary hero…

155We went down to Eau Claire Cinema, our new cultural home. It is also the home of Doc Soup: a series of revolutionary documentaries you can’t see elsewhere.

And the film was titled as above, one that had been reviewed in the NY Times and couldn’t be seen in Calgary otherwise. Good for these guys bringing it in.

The crowd was knowledgeable: they’d seen the reviews.

The movie was a testament: to Tim. Tim is a guy who’d gotten rich by inventing ways to show concurrent video streams on the internet. He had it all, the jet, the homes, the ability to do anything with wealth. The difference was, he decided to do something with it all.

He settled on projects. One visited him when he looked at the paintings of Vermeer. His observation? These look just like a video shot!

Then he read David Hockney’s book: The Secret of the Great Masters. Whathe discovered there was unsettling – that maybe the work of Vermeer and the some other Dutch Masters was the product of technology, not “artistic gift”.

Hockney, a Brit and modern artistic success, wrote the book after noticing the great chasm between Giotto and Jean Van Eyck, the earliest Dutch master. Suddenly, the representations were so vivid! The details of the drapery, the shadows on the wall, all was so detailed, so exact. Comparing to Giotto and other predecessors, Hockney concluded there was only one explanation: a technology breakthrough in the 14th century. What was it? The camera obscrura – a means by which a scene could be projected onto a surface – for example, a canvas, and be reliably reproduced.

So, Tim decided if that was so, he – not an artist – could replicate one of Vermeer’s exquisite paintings. A Vermeer – whom some said painted with light – could that be redone? The Music Lesson, was the one he picked to do – and the rest of the film is about his struggles.

The movie is not so much about Vermeer, although there is veneration for him. Really, it is about Tim, a modern genius.

Tim has grit. We read a bit about this character trait that makes possible achievement these days. He’s got it in spades. He carries on: exhibits perseverance and passion in his pursuit of his chosen end: to reproduce The Music Lesson in contemporary times; to prove that Vermeer used technology to produce his transcendent masterpieces.

He [Tim] is truly a Renaissance man. If he encounters furniture not currently available, he makes it. If he can’t make it using available lathes, he cuts the machinery in half, so he can! Nothing stops him.
Tim rebuilds the exact room Vermeer painted – in Austin, Texas, [no small feat in itself!]. He commences to imagining the optical tricks and lenses he thinks Vermeer used, and painstakingly makes those, using methods available in the 1600’s. When all was ready, he set out to reproduce the masterpiece.

You have to see the film to decide for yourself whether he succeeds. Here’s the link –
A parable of modern times, a feat of creative reasoning. He never let the problems rest, the ones that were plaguing him. He would take them to the bath – and let them stew. The creative process never rests, it works away on the subconscious level, even where we don’t think we’re gnawing on that bone. He would emerge with a new answer. And put it into gear.

The result? Well you assess for yourself. It was worthy of an award winning documentary……

Why do I write these observations? I’m hopeful that you may see the value that someone with a greater perspective – someone of a wider horizon – may bring to a business like yours….

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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