Daily Archives: December 3, 2009

Running the Numbers: Portraits of Mass Consumption

Sociologists tell us that the human mind cannot meaningfully grasp numbers higher than a few thousand.  Photographer Chris Jordan has made large mosaics that help translate the raw language of statistics into powerful images of global mass culture that we can respond to emotionally.  The artist says, “I hope to raise some questions about the roles and responsibilities we each play as individuals in a collective that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.”

This picture, the artist titled, “Gyre,” is made from 2.4 million pieces of plastic, equal to the estimated number of pounds of plastic that enter the world’s oceans every hour.  All of the plastic (2.4 million pieces) in this image was collected from the Pacific Ocean.

This mosaic is made from 106,000 small photos of individual aluminum cans.  106,000 is the number of aluminum cans used in the United States every thirty seconds.

Other statistics Chris Jordan has made into images include:

  • 426,000 cell phones discarded per day in the U.S.
  • 2,000,000 plastic bottles used by Americans every five minutes
  • 10,000 dog and cat collars, equal to the average number of unwanted dogs and cats euthanized in the United States every day
  • 2.3 million Americans in prison
  • 166,000 packing peanuts, equal to the number of overnight packages shipped by air in the U.S. every hour
  • 28,000 42-gallon barrels, the amount of oil consumed in the United States every two minutes (equal to the flow of a medium-sized river)
  • 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.)
  • one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours
  • one hundred million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees cut in the U.S. yearly to make the paper for junk mail
  • 200,000 packs of cigarettes, equal to the number of Americans who die from cigarette smoking every six months

Seeing the cumulative impact of individual actions through this talented artist’s lens awakens us to the enormity of our personal decisions.

To see more images and how Chris Jordan’s work is compiled:   http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php



Filed under Art, The Environment

Thursday, 12/03/09, Public Square

It’s very cold outside.  Remember those who may need our help in staying warm.

What do you want to blog about today?



Filed under The Public Square