Beckett Mufson introduces Jeff Frost’s mesmerizing short film Circle of Abstract Ritual:
Jeff Frost has been filming Circle of Abstract Ritual since he spontaneously decided to capture a timelapse of the Anaheim riots in 2012. Since then—with help from a very successful Kickstarter—he’s been gathering strange and surreal timelapse footage of abandoned buildings, deserted deserts, fiery hillsides, and open roads. The result is a beautifully shot, highly atmospheric glimpse into the underbelly of California, composed of 300,000 still photos. Frost’s stellar cinematography characterizes the city as a dark, mysterious place, where the seemingly familiar streets and avenues harbor a sense of foreboding—under his meticulous lens, even the white, puffy clouds seem to be harbingers of an oncoming storm.
Frost elaborates on his inspiration for the film, explaining that it “began as an exploration of the idea that creation and destruction might be the same thing”:
The destruction end of that thought began in earnest when riots broke out in my neighborhood in Anaheim, California, 2012. I immediately climbed onto my landlord’s roof without asking and began recording the unfolding events. The news agencies I contacted had no idea what to do with time lapse footage of riots, which was okay with me because I had been thinking about recontextualizing news as art for some time. After that I got the bug. I chased down wildfires, walked down storm drains on the L.A. River and found abandoned houses where I could set up elaborate optical illusion paintings. The illusion part of the paintings are not an end in themselves in my work. They’re an intimation of things we can’t physically detect; a way to get an ever so slight edge on the unknowable.