I am in full agreement with those who say art does not imitate life, it reflects it. This could not be more true that in the work of photographer/artist Chris Jordan of Seattle. Chris’ unique style is an indictment on our mass consuming society, and his work as well as his camera often focus on the amount of waste we generate and then dump into our environment.
The image shown above is from his series titled “Running the Numbers - An American Self-Portrait,” and is actually a photograph of two million disposable plastic bottles, the amount used every five minutes in the United States. You can see the rest of his thought provoking series online at his web site.
Some of the other disturbing images Chris includes in his work are depictions of -
· 38,000 shipping containers, the number of containers processed through American ports every twelve hours.
· 426,000 cell phones, equal to the number of cell phones retired in the U.S. every day.
· 8 million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees harvested in the U.S. every month to make the paper for mail order catalogs.
· 170,000 disposable Energizer batteries, equal to fifteen minutes of Energizer battery production.
· 30,000 reams of office paper, or 15 million sheets, equal to the amount of office paper used in the U.S. every five minutes.
And of course, any photographic or written commentary on our wasteful lifestyle would be incomplete if it did not include packaging. Chris’ photographs include images depicting -
· 60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the U.S. every five seconds.
· 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the U.S. every thirty seconds.
· 1.14 million brown paper supermarket bags, the number used in the U.S. every hour.
· Two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the U.S. every five minutes.
We can question the statistics and numbers but we cannot ignore the problem. Also, if we are completely honest with ourselves, we should not avoid accepting the blame because the problem is unarguably and undoubtedly us.