Being Green, Running the Numbers

Artist Chris Jordan’s series “Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait” gives visual perspective to the statistics of our consuming culture. Be sure to go to his site to see the rest of the images. And then do something about it.


Plastic Cups, 2008. 60×90″

Depicts one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours.

This 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 410,000 paper cups used every fifteen minutes. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming. [italics mine]

Gallery in L.A. that shows his work every year:
Paul Kopeikin Gallery

Video interviews with Chris Jordan:

PBS-Bill Moyers Journal – my personal favorite

Colbert Report

Rachael Ray

Scribe Media


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