These Stunning Images Aren't Drawings—They're Photos

Dutch artist Jasper de Beijer photographs historical dioramas to create surreal artwork.

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Mar 28 2016, 9:05pm

2-28-1993 (from ‘Mr. Knight's World Band Receiver’), 2014 C-Print 54” x 67” | 137 x 170 cm Edition 1/7. Images courtesy  Asya Geisberg Gallery

There's more than meets the eye in Amsterdam-based artist Jasper de Beijer's stark renditions of historical events, like the 1993 Waco siege, visualized above. What looks like a drawing or illustration is actually an meticulously-arranged 3D model. The photo series is called Mr. Knight's World Band Receiver, a reference to Christopher Knight, who abandoned society in 1986 at 20 years old, living in Maine's woods for 27 years with no access to media except for a transistor radio.

De Beijer thought about how Knight would imagine national events like the Waco situation, and attempted to translate them into the surreal works pictured here. He also imagines the Unabomber, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the genocide in Rwanda, and the ravaging of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, using as a reference only word-based reports. Each work is named for the date on which the event occured.

4-3-1996 (from ‘Mr. Knight’s World Band Receiver’), 2014 C-Print 42.5” x 43” | 108 x 110 cm Edition 1/7 

"The images that have come out of this approach—created in response to more or less iconic events in recent history—are uniquely subjective," reads de Beijer's website. "The images could just as easily be relating an entirely different story; the blueprints of an alternate reality. Like the stream of consciousness that constantly unfurls in our mind, they are the artefacts of an inner world that at times seems almost random—or that at any rate is entirely personal, in every aspect."

Knight's hermitude ended when he was arrested while stealing from a nearby vacation home, a habit that helped him survive over his three decades of isolation. The media became fascinated by the man who had shunned media for all those years, as did de Beijer. His approach to processing Knight's story is both thought-provoking and empathic, allowing his audience to contemplate the prospect of abandoning our visual culture without prying into the private life of a man who literally did everything in his power to stay away from people.

 12-26-2004 (from ‘Mr. Knight's World Band Receiver’), 2014 C-Print 45.25” x 71” | 115 x 180 cm Edition 7/7 

12-26-2004 Process (from ‘Mr. Knight's World Band Receiver’), 2014 C-Print 45.25” x 71” | 115 x 180 cm Edition 7/7 

4-6-1994 (from ‘Mr. Knight's World Band Receiver’), 2014 C-Print 47.25” X 33.5” | 120 x 85 cm Edition 1/7

4-6-1994 Process (from ‘Mr. Knight's World Band Receiver’), 2014 C-Print 47.25” X 33.5” | 120 x 85 cm Edition 1/7

8-29-2005 (from ‘Mr. Knight’s World Band Receiver’), 2014 C-Print 55” x 71” | 140 x 180 Edition 2/7

8-29-2005 Process (from ‘Mr. Knight’s World Band Receiver’), 2014 C-Print 55” x 71” | 140 x 180 Edition 2/7

Asya Geisberg Gallery displayed part of Mr. Knight's World Band at Art on Paper earlier this month. See more of Jasper de Beijer's work on his website.

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