Incredible Photo Art That Makes You Think

I highly recommend checking out Running The Numbers: An American Self-Portrait by Chris Jordan.

His statement about it:

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

Among his fine work you’ll see:

  • 410,000 paper cups, equal to the number of disposable hot-beverage paper cups used in the US every fifteen minutes.
  • 28,000 42-gallon barrels, the amount of of oil consumed in the United States every two minutes (equal to the flow of a medium-sized river).
  • 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.
  • 125,000 one-hundred dollar bills ($12.5 million), the amount our government spends every hour on the war in Iraq.
  • One hundred million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees cut in the U.S. yearly to make the paper for junk mail.

One of his incredible pieces shows 200,000 cigarette packs to symbolize the number of Americans who die from smoking every six months. So 400,000 Americans DIE every year from cigarette smoking. In the name of national security and keeping us safe….. why are cigarettes still legal? I mean, approximately 3,000 were killed on that Tuesday morning in September and we waged war on terror. Where’s the war on tobacco?

Another piece depicts 65,000 cigarettes, equal to the number of American teenagers under age eighteen who become addicted to cigarettes every month.

Man, we are really not keeping Americans safe!!

Anyway, be sure to also poke around the rest of his website to check out his portraits from the wake of Katrina, a global version of Running The Numbers, and other fine stuff.

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