Making data tangible!

Boris leaves me excellent links from time to time in my account! I usually find them when i am in those in-between times, usually idling between jobs, that’s when i recall to go over and see what’zup and find lovely info gifts in the Links For You section. This time he left a delightful info present about an exquisite way to make the numbers tangible from the artistic expressions of Chris Jordan in his Running the Numbers photo exhibit.

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.

I luv how he plays with scale and patterns to represent the tyranny of our mass consumption (see Plastic Bottles, 2007) or his choice of materials (see Building Blocks, 2007) to symbolize an issue.

Chris Jordan Shipping Containers 2007

Here are some of the photographic themes his photos depict:

  • nine million wooden ABC blocks, equal to the number of American children with no health insurance coverage in 2007.
  • 8 million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees harvested in the US every month to make the paper for mail order catalogs.
  • two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.
  • 65,000 cigarettes, equal to the number of American teenagers under age eighteen who become addicted to cigarettes every month.

Material and consumption culture is frighteningly beautiful in his photos. My favorite is the

  • 75,000 shipping containers, the number of containers processed through American ports every day (Photos in this post).

Chris Jordan Shipping Containers 2007

That’s allot of stuff moving from place to place!