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David Blaine Art History
June 18, 2007 8:25 AM   Subscribe

The face of Jesus in historic paintings was replaced by that of David Blaine by New Genre Arts professor Ben Bloch. The resulting images were shown to Art History students at Whitman College during the course of a class on Entertainment Violence. The students were not alerted to the fact that the images were doctored, nor did they notice on their own. Stupid students!
posted by ba (70 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sometimes I have trouble finding Waldo.
posted by OmieWise at 8:31 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Like anyone would notice those changes. Seems silly to me.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:34 AM on June 18, 2007


On the list of things that are irrelevant to most people in the modern world: Historical paintings.

On the list of things that are irrelevant to everybody in the modern world: David Blaine.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:35 AM on June 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'd like to see a magician get down from a cross. That would be a hell of a trick.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:37 AM on June 18, 2007


Wait, wait, you mean we know what Jesus' face looked like now?
posted by delmoi at 8:38 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's like Slylock Fox for grown-ups!
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 8:38 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wait, wait, you mean we know what Jesus' face looked like now?

Yeah; male, white, looks like a bit of a hippy, dontchaknow?
posted by dazed_one at 8:42 AM on June 18, 2007


That's sort of a shitty trick to play on people you're supposed to be teaching, isn't it? Now all those kids are going to think Jesus had a ferret-face.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:42 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


How many Americans would even recognize David Blaine in his proper context? I doubt I would. This mostly seems to be about Bloch showing everyone how clever he thinks he is. I hope he's at least an easy A.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:45 AM on June 18, 2007


I clicked on the "David Blaine" link above to try to find out who he is. When the page showed up, I went to Google instead.

Now I want that entire portion of my life back to waste in other ways.
posted by trip and a half at 8:46 AM on June 18, 2007


Isn't this more a commentary on the divinity and beauty of David Blaine than on the cluelessness of a bunch of dope-addled teen aged cultural illiterates?
posted by Dave Faris at 8:46 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Uhhhh, only one of those pictures in the slideshow originally depicted Jesus.
posted by saladin at 8:48 AM on June 18, 2007


I wonder what David Blaine's views are on same-sex marriage.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:48 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is like that "spot the gorilla" thing. If you are concentrating on something else, you don't notice even obvious stuff.

And having viewed the slideshow, I must say these changes are far from obvious. Even knowing that there was something there and what to look for I had to flip the last one a few times to find it. This is dumb.
posted by DU at 8:48 AM on June 18, 2007


I knew I was looking for Blaine in the last one, and had trouble finding him. Then eventually I realised he was the dude on the right in the regal robes, which looked wrong, cos I don't remember Jesus dressing like a king. And not that his changed face looked anything like Blaine's. I reckon art history professors might not notice that one, at least.

Then I saw that that was "The Siege of Cairo, 1810". And looked back at the others, and noticed that it was Marat in the first one, not Jesus. For which I kick myself.

So I am an idiot too. But this post is flagged as misleading, just as the art course was.
posted by imperium at 8:49 AM on June 18, 2007


OMG!! ... I JUST GOT A TORTILLA WITH DAVID BLAINE'S FACE ON IT!!
posted by pyramid termite at 8:50 AM on June 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Jeez, why do I never preview? Maybe it's because I am indeed an idiot.
posted by imperium at 8:51 AM on June 18, 2007


Contempt for their students appears to be part of the payment for some art instructors. I think the blaine for this lies with their near complete ire elephants.
posted by srboisvert at 8:52 AM on June 18, 2007


One conjurer looks much like another; where's the problem?
posted by Abiezer at 8:52 AM on June 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


Who IS fucking David Blaine?
posted by sfts2 at 8:53 AM on June 18, 2007


The last one was done well enough that it would be "hard" to notice, depending on the quality of the projection.

The David and Poussin paintings are glaringly obvious, and speaking as an actual art history student with a fairly good visual memory, this wouldn't fool me for a second.

[The professor's photoshop skills aren't quite there yet ;)]
posted by flippant at 8:54 AM on June 18, 2007


a class on Entertainment Violence

When I was in college, we called an elective like this a "gut course." Let's think this through. What would be the syllabus? Watching movies and tv for credit. Yeah. I can see how those kids might overlook some of the details. They were just waiting for something to explode.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:59 AM on June 18, 2007


Who IS fucking David Blaine?

At various times, Fiona Apple, Madonna, Josie Maran, Lonneke Engel and Daryl Hannah (you should have seen that one coming).
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:01 AM on June 18, 2007


Hmm. Unless you are expertly familiar with these particular depictions of Jesus, there's no way you're going to spot the replacement. Especially, as NPR pointed out in a recent MeFI link, that there are thousands of different versions of the face of Jesus. A not so clever gimmick, really.
posted by Zinger at 9:02 AM on June 18, 2007


When is David Blaine going to do the trick where we get to kill him and stick his body in a cave and then three days later we roll away the rock and it's gone? I'd pay to see that one.
posted by The Bellman at 9:03 AM on June 18, 2007


Here is a test in change blindness. Every time the picture flashes, something in the image changes. When I finally noticed it I was amazed how long it took. Super cool. No spoilers please.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:04 AM on June 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


FOB,

Saw it, was just setting you up, bro.
posted by sfts2 at 9:10 AM on June 18, 2007


First off, they didn't all look like David Blaine to me. And in art school, your brain is fried so it doesn't surprise me they didn't catch it.

Secondly, "QUIT PUTTING ORANGE SODA IN MY MOUTH, DAVID BLAINE!!!"
posted by miss lynnster at 9:12 AM on June 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Mr_Zero: Wow, that's something. I didn't see it at all when I was trying, but as soon as I sort of gazed at the picture -- the same sort of gaze you'd use if you were trying to spot someone in a crowd when they could be anywhere -- it jumped out at me.
posted by mendel at 9:32 AM on June 18, 2007


Sacha Baron Cohen totally beat Bloch to the punch on this with that Ali G bit where he asks his religion panel whether or not God might be "just an overhyped version of David Blaine." [ctrl+f Blaine in the linked NYT article]
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 9:33 AM on June 18, 2007


Sweet replaced face of our lord Jesus, miss lynnster, I loved that video. Cheez-its! Cheez-its! Cheez-its!
posted by LeeJay at 9:35 AM on June 18, 2007


My wife and I went for a long walk on Friday, in part up Bainbridge Ave along the Woodlawn Cemetery. The Mets were playing at Yankee stadium that night, as it's up near the last stop of the 4 train lots of people park along that street on game nights, so the street was unusually full of parked cars.

On our walk back my wife spotted a small round sticker in the front window of one of the cars. It was a headshot of JC (long-haired hippy version) with words around it: FACE OF JESUS, PROTECT ME!

I'd like a sticker like that.

In discussing this with a friend, he suggested FISTS OF JESUS, PROTECT ME would be even better. With the hippy JC with fists raised. Someone put that on a t-shirt, OK?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:38 AM on June 18, 2007


Hold on--nowhere in the links does Ben Bloch suggest that the students were at fault for not spotting the chages. This isn't one of those "students are so dumb they can't find Canada on a map" things. It's an art performance where Bloch is linking David Blaine's magic to performance art and his suffering to Jesus'.
Seen in the proper light, Jesus’s will looks like the will of many artists who have chosen to inflict suffering on themselves for symbolic—for artistic—reasons. It is in this tradition that David Blaine Art History proposes Blaine as a modern-day martyr, as an artist.
Not that I think Bloch's done anything that interesting here. This is the kind of stuff that sets people off complaining about performance art--it's impenetrable until you read the artist's statement, then it's facile and self-serving.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:41 AM on June 18, 2007


This is a truly remarkable piece of work.

Remarkable, because Bloch has managed to do something even more inane than Blaine's stunts - which, to be fair, at least require some level of courage and endurance.
posted by googly at 9:49 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here is a test in change blindness. Every time the picture flashes, something in the image changes. When I finally noticed it I was amazed how long it took. Super cool. No spoilers please.

So how long did it take everyone? Is this the part where we boast about our times?

7 seconds.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:05 AM on June 18, 2007


Blaine, what an asshole.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:10 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jesus was a gay nigger Jew.

Jesus was way cool.
posted by loquacious at 10:10 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's weird, I could have sworn I saw David Blaine in a dog's ass hair just the other day.
posted by The Straightener at 10:11 AM on June 18, 2007


If you switch "gay" to "tap dancing," Jesus could've been Sammy Davis, Jr.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:11 AM on June 18, 2007


The "change blindness" test is impressive. I was oblivious. You can control-click (or right click or whatever) on the applet and change some speed and display settings and get other tests besides the plane.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:14 AM on June 18, 2007


On the one hand fooling people is easy.

On the other, the first 3 seem too obvious, but I've already taken several art history classes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:15 AM on June 18, 2007


Is Whitman a very expensive college?
posted by matteo at 10:24 AM on June 18, 2007


Can somebody put a spoiler alert and tell me what the fuck is different about that goddamn airplane before I either develop epilepsy or throw my monitor out the window in frustration?

Holy FUCK am I change blind as a bat.
posted by The Straightener at 10:26 AM on June 18, 2007


On the one had fooling people is easy.

Nah. It's hand, amirite?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:28 AM on June 18, 2007


Straightener, use the control-click / right-click menu and set it to "no gap" to see what's going on.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:29 AM on June 18, 2007


If you switch 'gay' to 'tap dancing,' Jesus could've been Sammy Davis, Jr.

Or if you switched to "badass," He could've been Yaphet Kotto.

Of course being gay isn't antithetical to being a badass. Or tap dancing.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:30 AM on June 18, 2007


or check your email. I just sent you the answer.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:30 AM on June 18, 2007


32K/year is a lot to pay to get access to the photoshop contests.
posted by humanfont at 10:31 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Haha, thanks Dave; man, I am feeling reeeeeal dumb right now. It's, like, not even a little bit subtle.
posted by The Straightener at 10:32 AM on June 18, 2007


So how long did it take everyone?

-I gave up after a minute and cheated
posted by MtDewd at 10:56 AM on June 18, 2007


And now for the Highlights of this post.
posted by jeremy b at 11:00 AM on June 18, 2007


Hold on a second. Jesus gave Fiona Apple herpes?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:05 AM on June 18, 2007


But would they have noticed spagetti? With or without meatballs.
posted by jfuller at 11:16 AM on June 18, 2007


3 Step Method for Invoking MetaFilter's Snarkiest Snark:

1) Mentions Jesus. Check!

2) Mentions Art History Check!

3) Mentions David Blaine Check!
posted by chlorus at 11:16 AM on June 18, 2007


I could be mistaken but it appears that only one of the paintings includes Jesus. The others are of Marat, St. Erasmus, and the revolt of Cario... so... no Jesus in those.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:40 AM on June 18, 2007


Yeah, CitrusFreak, I can't see how on earth the supposed multitude of jesus-depictions he cites as a point to this exercise can have anything to do with the actual people depicted in the doctored paintings.

This whole thing is pretty inane (especially the Blaine angle)
posted by flippant at 12:06 PM on June 18, 2007


Maybe it's because there's a little bit of Jesus inside all of us...?



No?





sorry.
posted by ba at 12:45 PM on June 18, 2007


So, the sight of David Blaine's corpse doesn't seem to surprise or alarm people. Hmm. Are you listening, David?
posted by Soulfather at 1:09 PM on June 18, 2007


I had a little bit of Jesus inside of me once. Goes great with wine.
posted by LeeJay at 1:15 PM on June 18, 2007


Fuck I saw this, clicked on the post and read the comments and until about halfway down, I thought you guys were talking about David Bain - now his image replacing Jesus' would be celeverer.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 2:02 PM on June 18, 2007


If the face of Jesus [whose looks are not verified] had been replaced by Tom Cruise [or some really odd looking guy like Jimmy Durante] and no one noticed that might be sort of funny. But David Blaine - I'm not sure many people know what he looks like enough to notice he is embedded in a painting.
posted by Rashomon at 2:39 PM on June 18, 2007


Rashomon writes "But David Blaine - I'm not sure many people know what he looks like enough to notice he is embedded in a painting."

Yeah, but keep in mind, the person who did this wasn't intending to do a "you students are so stupid, you didn't even notice!" trick, that was just ba's take on it. The original was more along the lines of guerilla art. The point wasn't to do something funny, but expose people to performance art without their realizing it.
posted by Bugbread at 3:22 PM on June 18, 2007


I didn't RTFA, but changing paintings of Jesus' face is a pretty common art project and its not even historically/artistically clever - nobody knows what he really looked like (the consenus representation of Jesus most people use comes from a widely copied Renaissance painting, and is pretty different from the one I would see in Africa, all versions are wild ass guesses) - for all we really know Jesus does look like David Blaine or Kayne West.

All the prof really wanted was to be able to sigh and pontificate about how dumb and unworthy undergrads are, and all I really want in this post to do is sigh and pontificate about the how dumb and unworthy the prof is. Gotta love the post modern world.
posted by Deep Dish at 3:43 PM on June 18, 2007


Deep Dish writes "I didn't RTFA...All the prof really wanted was to be able to sigh and pontificate about how dumb and unworthy undergrads are"

You shoulda read the article, then. The pontification of student dumbness and unworthiness was all ba's. The professor him/herself (it's a little extra-confusing, because there are actually two professors involved) wanted to do a performance art project by sneaking in the images and then far later in the course revealing that they'd been switched. There is nothing about stupidity, unworthiness, sighing, or the like in TFA.
posted by Bugbread at 4:04 PM on June 18, 2007


(I do think the prof is a bit of a wanker when it comes to theory (Jesus was a performance artist? David Blaine is a martyr?), but I certainly don't get any vibe from him that he has any disdain for his students)
posted by Bugbread at 4:08 PM on June 18, 2007


Always possible that a student may have noticed, or thought he noticed, but saw no particular upside in pointing it out. If the prof is showing an possibly doctored painting, and there's even the slightest chance that he himself is unaware of its being doctored, do you want to be the student to call him out before the entire class?

Grades are too precious to be risked on something like this.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:33 PM on June 18, 2007


"Is Whitman a very expensive college?"

Yeah. It was low $20k when I went there in the late 1980s, yay free ride. According to some random page, it's about $38-39k all-in now.
posted by reeses at 10:32 PM on June 18, 2007


Yeah, I'm not sure I would've know that it was David Blaine, though Jesus' fashionable mustache would've probably raised a red flag.
posted by srobbin at 5:28 AM on June 19, 2007


The pontification of student dumbness and unworthiness was all ba's.

Just to be clear, if anyone cares, I thought it was kind of a cool project. The crossed out line about stupidity was my (admitedly lame) attempt at a joke. I meant it as a prememptive strike at what I thought the majority opinion would be. I was off on both the majority position, and the decision to put in that "joke" in the first place. I am in no way pontificating on anyone's alleged stupidity.

That said, the replacement of White Jesus' face with that of Urban Merlin totally resonates with me, as does subliminal anything as it relates to visual blah blah blah. Also, it took me about 5 minutes to see the difference in the airplane photo.
posted by ba at 8:53 AM on June 19, 2007


Ah, ok, sorry about the misunderstanding, ba.
posted by Bugbread at 9:55 AM on June 19, 2007


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