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300,000 Photos Offer A Cinematic Glimpse Into California's Gritty Underbelly

In a mesmerizing mix of photos, timelapse, stop-motion, and "recontextualized news as art," filmmaker Jeff Frost presents 'Circle of Abstract Ritual.'

by Beckett Mufson
Sep 17 2014, 4:00pm

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.

"Circle of Abstract Ritual began as an exploration of the idea that creation and destruction might be the same thing," Frost explains in the film's Vimeo description. "I chased down wildfires, walked down storm drains on the LA River and found abandoned houses where I could set up elaborate optical illusion paintings." The "recontextualized news as art" from the riots and a number of elaborate stop-motion light artworks—which use absolutely no graphics whatsoever are hugely important to the aforementioned exploration of destruction and creation, accounting for multiple climaxes throughout the 11-minute film's "interconnected narrative structure."

Frost showed the film at the Brooklyn Kickstarter Film Festival in July, and we covered an early edit called Modern Ruin: Black Hole last year, but has just released the fully completed film to the public. While you should set aside some time to sit back and enjoy the entirety of the film, for now, enjoy a few surreal moments from it, as well as some in-depth behind the scenes footage, below.

Read the full description on the Circle of Abstract Ritual page for more insight into Frost's process, and visit his site to stay up to date on his future work.

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