The Docent is Watching

Giotto di Bondone
Lyrics & Music by Joe Henderson
Copyright © 2012

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Before Giotto di Bondone
people had to fool themselves
there was little illusion in art
there was little or no depth
in any painting or drawing
except crude attempts
or an occasional glimpse
of three-dimensionality
on a two dimensional surface
There was no systematic method
no mathematical strictures
for placing a human figure
inside real looking structures
but Giotto was the First
to use an algebraic formula
to create the illusion of a room
in which Caiphas sealed the doom of Jesus

It wasn’t a perfect rendering
Giotto’s formula
lacked a recursive ratio
but it was close enough
& his painting recreated a scene
from a well known story
that lived in mediaeval minds
that had only existed
in the drama of words
as repeated by a priest
or as read from the Book

Giotto pushed in on the canvas
& punctured that two-point perspective
& a new space appeared
where only flat surface had been
& some called it magic
Some called it a miracle
& others called it witchcraft
by those who suffered stagnation
of the imagination

Today some might say
he put a fiction inside an illusion
but others might equally say
don’t you step on my symbols
This is not the actual Jesus
but it is the truth
this isn’t really a room
with Jesus in it
Okay, then why do we say
“There’s Jesus” when we see it?
and the knees of Caiphas
while rounded in fabric
look like they could be grabbed
I wouldn’t do it if I were you
the docent is watching



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