Jenison recently attempted to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did 17th century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”) manage to paint so photorealistically 150 years before the invention of photography? To test his theory, Jenison, who is not a painter, built a to-scale recreation of Vermeer’s studio in his warehouse in San Antonio, Texas, then used 17th-century technology — lenses and mirrors — to paint Vermeer’s The Music Lesson. Jenison’s historic research project is the subject of the acclaimed documentary, Tim’s Vermeer, produced by famed magicians and debunkers Penn and Teller.
Jenison’s research into art and optics in the Golden Age is also the subject of Hound in the Hunt, a live installation exhibition at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania. For this, Jenison designed new optical demonstrations that feature both accomplished and untrained painters using his optical machines to recreate, from life, masterpieces by Vermeer, Caravaggio, Heda, and Torrentius. The exhibit explores how optical techniques may account for the uniquely photoreal look of their works. The public can also try Jenison’s “comparator mirror” process for themselves. As part of this exhibit, Jenison moved to Vermeer’s hometown of Delft, Netherlands, for six months, where he used his optical machine to paint, from life, a recreation of the artist’s View of Delft.
Tim Jenison is considered the visionary force behind the desktop video revolution. He founded his technology company, NewTek, in 1985, and led the way in the development of a series of highly successful products, including DigiView (one of the first video digitizers for a computer), DigiPaint, and the Video Toaster®. He was one of the early enthusiasts for personal computers. By the late 1970s, he saw the computer as the integrating medium for his various passions: electronics, music, film and video.
At an early age, Jenison learned to play the piano, and his keyboard talents propelled him to leave college and join a rock band — where, of course, he continually worked on ways to improve the sound equipment.