Mass Consumption Photography by Chris Jordan

By Village Mayor • Apr 6th, 2009 • Category: Art, Latest Post, Photography

Running the Numbers 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 32,000 breast augmentation surgeries in the U.S. every month.

This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. Employing themes such as the near versus the far, and the one versus the many, I hope to raise some questions about the roles and responsibilities we each play as individuals in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

~chris jordan, Seattle, 2008;

You can find more on his website: chrisjordan.com

Toothpicks, 2008

Depicts one hundred million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees cut in the U.S. yearly to make the paper for junk mail.

A toothpick is the object most often choked on by Americans.

Oil Barrels, 2008

Depicts 28,000 42-gallon barrels, the amount of of oil consumed in the United States every two minutes (equal to the flow of a medium-sized river).

In Los Angeles, there are fewer people than there are automobiles.

Alaska is the state with the highest percentage of people who walk to work.

Barbie Dolls, 2008

Depicts 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006.

Prison Uniforms, 2007

Depicts 2.3 million folded prison uniforms, equal to the number of Americans incarcerated in 2005. The U.S. has the largest prison population of any country in the world.

Cans Seurat, 2007

Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.

Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours.

Each year, Americans throw out enough soda pop cans bottles to reach to the moon and back—twenty times.

Handguns, 2007

Depicts 29,569 handguns, equal to the number of gun-related deaths in the US in 2004.

Spent bullet casings, 2005

Energizer, 2007

Depicts 170,000 disposable Energizer batteries, equal to fifteen minutes of Energizer battery production.

Shark Teeth, 2009

Depicts 270,000 fossilized shark teeth, equal to the estimated number of sharks of all species killed around the world every day for their fins.

Crushed cars, Tacoma 2004

The United States makes up only 4% of the world’s population, yet it is the number one producer of garbage. In 2006, Americans generated more than 250 million tons of garbage. Canada produces 31 million tons of garbage per year.

New Car Lot, Tacoma 2004

Sawdust, Tacoma 2004

Sawdust #2, Seattle 2005

Folks, if you enjoyed photos by Chris Jordan, his book can be easily found on amazon.com. To make things even easier for you, here you go: Running the Numbers: An American Self-portrait – filled with astonishing photographs of surprising beauty, this book, manufactured from recycled materials, helps us grasp visually the potential consequences of our culture of waste.

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