Sunday, February 3, 2008

Chris Jordan Photographs. Unbelievable.

"Cans Seurat", 2007
60" x 92"

Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds
by Chris Jordan

I have a thing for cans. And I like to walk. I've always been an urban walker, although I'm learning to enjoy hiking, the kind where you drive in a car to some hour-away beautiful location, hike on a blazed trail and drive home. I used to walk for hours in New York. Now I walk in Northern Virginia because that's where I live. How odd that I raised my children here. Imagine, my own children are from Virginia. I just mentioned this fact to Jerzy who said, "Did you have to rub that in. I wanna be from New York."

I walk my errands. I'm not much for idle walking. Unlike in the city, on the side of the road are cans, flattened cans, all kinds of cans. Do you ever look at them? The diversity is amazing. They're beautiful. Sometimes I can't resist picking them up and taking them home. I collect them. There. I've said it.

What Chris Jordan does with cans is astounding. Same for photos of cell phones, valve caps, paper bags, prison uniforms, Barbies, plastic bags.

Running the Numbers An American Self-Portrait
As Chris Jordan describes this incredible body of work:

"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.

My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so. The series is a work in progress, and new images will be posted as they are completed, so please stay tuned."

~chris jordan, Seattle, 2007
Go to the site and see depictions of 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006; 60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the US every five seconds; an 8.5 feet wide by 10.5 feet tall Ben Franklin made of 125,000 one-hundred dollar bills ($12.5 million), the amount our government spends every hour on the war in Iraq. And others - hand guns, cigarettes, SUV sales.

Art that speaks. Loudly.

By the way, wanna see a close up:

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