Monday, May 11, 2009

Statistical Beauty

The picture above depicts aluminum cans used in the US every 30 seconds -- 106,000 cans

Chris Jordan is a photographer/artist in Seattle who uses art to display public health statistics in a really neat way.

From his website,, he says, "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 society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming. ~chris jordan, Seattle, 2008"

These pictures are powerful reminders of our consumption as a nation, people and world. I'm most impressed by the fact that he counts the items he uses in each photograph to accurately display the stats. Jordan has amazing patience, imagination and a powerful effect with his images.

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