Chris Jordan is a Seattle-based photographer who is using art to give us a glimpse at our consumption. He writes:
This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. My underlying desire is to affirm and sanctify the crucial role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.
My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images….
~chris jordan, Seattle, 2007
Go to his site to see the whole series.
Here is one example:
Depicts 60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the US every five seconds.
Detail at actual size:
(all copyright Chris Jordan 2007)
Each of these pieces is worth some meditation because they do depict how we live and what we consume.