Chris Jordan, is an artist and an activist that is truly helping to awaken us to our convenient lifestyles, and the impact they are having on our environment.
It is important to remember that we are all in this together, and the sooner we realize that we are equally responsible for our own environmental destruction, and that there is no “they” that is responsible, then we will become awaken to making better choices for the environment.
We can start to look inside, become more aware of our purchasing patterns, conveniences, and the material conveniences that we take for granted. It is the ingrained, “I am not enough”, thought that we have learned that is at the primary root of many of the challenges that Chris’s artwork depicts.
Chris’s new book entitled, “Running the Numbers: An American Self-portrait“, is both an artist’s and an activist’s way of helping us wake up to our habits, and possibly make an effort to shift them, and not be enslaved to them.
“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.
The following are just a few of the many examples depicted in Chris’s book that hopefully will bring awareness to the issue that we are all in this together:
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). Light Bulbs, 2008 72×96″ Depicts 320,000 light bulbs, equal to the number of kilowatt hours of electricity wasted in the United States every minute from inefficient residential electricity usage (inefficient wiring, computers in sleep mode, etc.). Toothpicks, 2008 60×96″Depicts one hundred million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees cut in the U.S. yearly to make the paper for junk mail. Plastic Cups, 2008 60×90″ Depicts one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours.
Chris’ 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, Chris hopes to raise some questions about the roles and responsibilities we each play as individuals in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.
I know you are going to enjoy this podcast with Chris, and I can highly recommend his new book entitled, “Running the Numbers”. Please listen to the underlying message in this podcast, for Chris has an important message.