6 August 1993

The Day of Ascension*

"But it's not a sad death - it happens out in the fields, in the bright sunshine, bathed in a light of pure gold." 1
The Day of Ascension continues Andrew Frost's stated goal to 'gesture towards the absolute reduction of image', but in an important shift, this gesture now more formally adheres to materialist imperatives.2
The constitution of the televisual image as a cinematic object, and of the surface of the monitor screen as the pro-filmic space are both still evident however where Frost used to write with the televisual, he now paints.

Where the decontextualised video fragment - his hallmark - would once be used to build a new visual language, it now slips into an river of 'irreference', where the event performed before the camera bears no correlation to the images etched as a result onto the actual film or tape. Thus, in the final, hypnotic, sequence of The Day of Ascension, Frost asks us to literally become immersed in our own gaze back into the televisual apparatus.
The religiosity invoked by this manoeuvre, within its polarities of contemplation and melodrama, is driven by a neo-minimalist impulse to disintegrate the image.
Narcissism is rejected in favour of a dissolution of the subject. Indeed of all subjects as all modes of identification collapse under the weight of Frost's denunciation of the dis/simulated World. He displays an iconoclastic drive to pare down the noise and clatter, to drive the moneychangers from the temple of pixels.
We are induced to let go and surrender to those effects which simply work their spell. Frost asks us to glide, semi-conscious through the technological global village, an organic field of irrational numbers and dream screens, hypnosis wheels and hell's fire where we become not one flesh, but dissolve into one sentient force...
Frost's balancing act on this high wire of semi-abstraction suspends the momentary in an eternal present. Advocating an impossible ethereal, materialism, the work draws across images of Gulf War media coverage, kinetic, monochrome abstraction, and orchestrated video feedback, forcing the viewer to choose either liberation in the slipstream of the void or retreat to the cult of personality, to First Person.
Thus The Day of Ascension begins at the Deposition, mourning the death of the subject. But after three acts the subject is ready to rise again. Only the choice is ours: Given the chance to be born again, do we merely return, divided, to the certainty of a world of appearances, or do we ascend, as one, to the realm of an eternally recurrent everyday life?
Michael Hutak, August, 1993.

1. Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh, Lust For Life. -->
2. A. Frost, Perspecta '89 Catalogue notes to the film Open The Kingdom(1988).

* First published in the official catalogue for Perspecta 93, Art Gallery New South Wales, 1993.

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