Monday, July 9, 2012

Eco Art: Creativity with a Message


Through one of my favorite web sites,, I came across this intriguing, yet sobering, project,  Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait.

Seattle-based photographer/artist Chris Jordan describes his collection of art this way:

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 collective that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

The above work of art pays homage to Georges Seurat's famous painting, but depicts 400,000 plastic bottle caps, equal to the average number of plastic bottles consumed by Americans every day.

Visit to zoom in and see the bottle cap detail of this remarkable work of art. Among Jordan's other works you can see are 260,000 car keys, equal to the number of gallons of gasoline burned in U.S. cars every minute and 320,000 light bulbs, equal to the number of kilowatt hours wasted every minute in the United States from inefficient residential electricity usage.

Jordan is right: his art gives raw statistics new meaning. I know I won't be able to view plastic bottles in the same way from this day forward.

I hope you'll take a minute to look at Jordan's remarkable work and to reflect on the sobering story it tells. 

Make it a great day!


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