Chandelier, you rule my world.
  • Chandelier, you rule my world.
In 2001, David Hockney, with the help of physicist Charles Falco and the art historian Martin Kemp, put out a book called Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, which claimed that artists began using lenses and mirrors to make their works far earlier than was previously acknowledged—as early as 1425.

This was a big deal because it meant there was—gasp!—tracing involved, mucking up the whole absolute-genius complex.

Tuesday night, Falco gave a talk at UW about the science of the Hockney-Falco Thesis, and it was fascinating. (Science jokes also may be the most endearing things in the world.) The demonstrations made very clear that it's actually the distortions in the images that support their reliance on optics—not what we perceive as their perfection relative to flatter pictures from earlier periods.

"Oh, there's no doubt it's true," Seattle painter Joe Park said to me as we walked out. Turns out he's at work on a painting incorporating a distorted version of the Arnolfini chandelier—a Rosetta Stone of the Hockney-Falco Thesis—for the upcoming Armory Show in New York. I've been dreaming about the chandelier ever since.