Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chris Jordan - making art of consumer stats

On the ever-popular subject of consumerism, we Westerners are inundated with information - statistics, tables, reports, study findings, etc. Apparently, however, the human brain cannot comprehend numbers upwards of a few hundred thousand or a million, and so, even with all these stats so readily available, we cannot fully comprehend their meaning and are therefore somewhat oblivious to the effect we are collectively having on the world around us.

U.S based photographic artist Chris Jordan aims to bring a sense of consumer awareness to his fellow Americans (and really, Westerners in general) by translating these inaccessible facts and figures into a visual language that we can understand. Beginning with anything from plastic cups, barbie dolls, shark teeth and other such dross, Jordan creates grand-scale images which create a sense of context and scale, giving us an idea of the way many many small actions snowball to create a startlingly large whole effect.

Plastic Cups, 2008
Depicts 1, 000, 000 plastic cups, ie: the number used on airline flights in the U.S every six hours.

Zoomed in to actual size

Barbie Dolls, 2008
Depicts 32, 000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the U.S in 2006.

And zoomed in

Jordan's hope is that his artworks may "serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry." First we become aware; then we can consider our behaviour in light of that and effect change. Have a listen to what he's got to say in his spiel for TED ....