At the Dawn of Creation
Better Photography|April 2021
Enigmatic, surreal, perhaps even catastrophic... Conchita Fernandes discovers what loans Kim Keever’s landscapes a transcendental quality.
Conchita Fernandes

Landscapes continue to enthrall us by its sheer beauty and magnanimity. Over the centuries, it has offered artists a form of escapism from the drudgeries of everyday life as well as an innate understanding of our place in the grander scheme of things. Its ability to create a sense of inclusion by allowing us to honour what is greater and far more interesting than ourselves is what makes it one of the most widely photographed and documented subjects in paintings.

For Kim Keever, growing up in a rural area on the Eastern Shore of Virginia provided many picturesque views that engulfed him in an overpowering feeling of admiration for nature. He carried this sense of wonder and reverence into his dioramas, which he has been creating for the past thirty years.

Creating the atmosphere in His Vistas

Keever’s dioramas embody a certain fleetingness. Even in the stillness of the image, it is the soft, wispiness of the pastel-like colours that convey a sense of movement amongst the trees and rock formations of his created landscapes. It is no accident that his photographs take on this quality; Keever places his dioramas in large water tanks. “When I first began making dioramas, it involved tabletop models that appeared to be on a planet without an atmosphere. At the time, I used a 4 x 5 large format camera. This changed when I realised that I could create a landscape photograph with a more realistic, diffused light by submerging everything in an aquarium filled with water. It eventually occurred to me that what diffuses the light in the atmosphere is mainly water vapour.

With the two feet of water from the front of the aquarium to the back, I was able to capture miles and miles of atmosphere in a compressed scale,” he says.

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