What do 2 million plastic bottles look like? Or 426,000 cell phones? How about 60,000 plastic bags? You can check them out here, with some amazing photos by Chris Jordan.
This new 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 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs.Jordan says the 2 million bottles, for example, represents the number used in the United States every five minutes. The cell phones? The number retired in the U.S. every day. And the plastic bags are the number used in the United States every 5 seconds. There are some (fairly mild) political overtones to his work, obviously. I won't be surprised if some readers are offended. But his message reflects an attitude that we're seeing more frequently in recent months -- the feeling that the throw-away attitude of our society has gone too far.