JEFF FROST | Artist Statement

Artist Statement

I am inventing dogma-free rituals that fill the hole left by anachronistic childhood religions. My work puts myself and those who view it in touch with the fragments of consciousness that make life worth living: awe, wonder, mystery, fear, adventure, and the penetrating strangeness that accompanies all life. I am fascinated by the cross sections of time, environment, science, and destruction. My work is not top-down didactic. Nor is it interested in the tedious task of preaching to the choir. Instead it asks questions that I have difficulty facing both inner and outer, set against a backdrop of society soaking in fossil fuel, technological innovation running beyond the speed of existential evolution, and flirting with human mass die off while wildfire creeps into the suburbs. Even in pondering extinction I seek to connect to larger realities which compel me to ask unknowable questions. I know that the meat suit brain is probably incapable of understanding the answers, even if they were laid at my feet, but still I must ask and ask and ask. I want to discover secrets buried under odysseys.

My work combines many mediums into short films created from hundreds of thousands of photographs. I record wildfires, riots, the creation of my own paintings, stars, maggots, oil pumps, birds shitting, and anything else that can be used as raw material to build a film, but I tend to do it in seemingly ridiculous ways. For example, a wildfire is a fast moving situation where the slow process of time lapse photography is absurd, out of place, and inefficient from the perspective of photojournalism. Nevertheless, recording an event in this manner permits us to see the evolution of that scenario played back in fast forward. Paradoxically, by spending the extra attention on what would normally exist as a flash-in-the-pan media event, we are also allowed to contemplate it with a slow deliberation the nightly news would never allow. This manner of observation causes what’s known as the overview effect. It connects us to a wider reality. Thus, the Fourth Dimension (time) is frequently used as a vehicle to transition the mind into a universal time scale in the nonlinear narratives of my films.

In terms of medium, the work that goes into these films can be broken down into three large categories: photography and video, painting, and sound. As mentioned above a major aspect of my visual practice involves chasing down news events in progress such as wildfires and riots. For my paintings I scour the deserts in search of abandoned buildings. When I find a room in one I like I literally set up camp and paint large scale optical illusions on what’s left of the interior walls. I live in the structure until the painting is done. This part of my practice draws from many artists and movements from Street Art, to Contemporary Art, to the subversion of utopian ideals of the minimalist abstract painters of Modernism. Finally, the medium of sound and music plays an essential role in my films. I am fascinated with strange and exotic recording processes, software, and microphones as well as conventional musical instruments. This has led me to unlikely methods & equipment such as the use of electromagnetic spectrum sensors to record the internal sounds of actual electronic circuits or the use of software to focus on background noise after subtracting the primary signal. All of this sound, some recorded in the field or at news events, and some, such as the sound of earthquakes or astronomical phenomena mined from public science entities like NASA, is directly related to the visual content with which it is paired. Rather than a mere reflection, the sound design and soundtrack complete the sentence of the visual content.