Former NASA Engineer Kim Keever Creates Abstract Art in His Aquarium
Rocket science is an art form to some—and for Kim Keever, one inspired the other. While interning at NASA, the engineering graduate student had an art-centric epiphany. “It wasn’t until working on my graduate degree in thermal engineering that I realized making art was the true love of my life,” says Keever.
Today, the New York City–based artist is known for the otherworldly images he creates by dropping paint into the water of a 200-gallon aquarium (see video below). Keever began this unconventional method of art-making in the mid-90s, experimenting with dioramas and landscapes, over which he’d drop the paint and then photograph the results (he’d been a sculptor and painter beforehand, so the odd medium came naturally to him).
Then around 2010, Keever started exploring a more abstract aesthetic by introducing various objects into the tank and doing away with the landscapes. The artist spent two more years paring down his process until he reached his current one. His latest works investigate the diffusion of light and color through the paint’s dispersion, which Keever finds gratifying given the unpredictable outcome of each image. He compares his process to a painting machine, since the water gives the paint a life of its own. Says Keever of his process:
“Timing of the shots is crucial and short-lived, as the process of releasing the dyes and pigments quickly transforms into a random event. It is a very freeing process. I can explore color and form like never before….Even after 20,000 shots I can’t predict which will be completely successful and only a fraction are printed. But I have accepted the lack of control and embrace the randomness.”
Keever’s work has been featured as part of exhibitions at institutions throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art. An upcoming exhibition at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, entitled Dioramas, will feature his most recent abstract images. It will be the first large-scale installation to explore the diorama throughout art history and its influence on significant contemporary artists. Running from June 12, 2017, to September 10, 2017, Keever’s work will be exhibited alongside those of filmmaker/animator Hayoun Kwon and abstract artist Gareth Nyandoro.
Currently represented by Waterhouse & Dodd, you can find more works by Keever here. Enjoy some more of his abstract visuals below.