Whether you read them in the paper or overhear a friend rattling off some numbers at a dinner party, most statistics are often too abstract and/or overwhelming to have a real impact. Especially the ones we should pay attention to, such as our excessively wasteful consumption, the number of deaths from prescription medication overdoses, the pervasive use of GMO seeds in the world or the disturbingly high number of elective breast implants performed in our country annually, just to name a few.
But for years, artist Chris Jordan has been brilliantly illustrating the mind-blowing social and environmental issues we turn the other cheek to every day with his large-scale photographic series, Running the Numbers. Having just discovered his work, I feel as though I've been living under a rock (or under a pile of garbage, perhaps), but it's never too late to celebrate the creative geniuses using art to raise social awareness, of which Jordan certainly is a star. I've listed plastic bag consumption statistics on this blog before which may have been read by a few dozen people, at best. But Jordan's "Return of the Dinosaurs" piece depicts the 240,000 plastic bags that are estimated to be consumed around the world EVERY 10 SECONDS in a way that should get the attention of EVERYONE!!
(Please note that you must click on each image on Jordan's website to zoom in to the essential detail of each work.)
An image created in the likeness of a famous Seurat painting called "Cans Seurat" made with 106,000 aluminum cans, the estimated number of cans used in the U.S. EVERY 30 SECONDS:
"Barbie Dolls, 2008" depicts 32,000 barbies, illustrating the number of elective breast augmentations in the U.S. in 2006:
"Prison Uniforms" illustrates 2.3 million folded prison uniforms, equal to the number of individuals incarcerated in our prison systems in 2005:
"Plastic Cups, 2008" depicts one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US EVERY SIX HOURS. According to his 2008 lecture on TED TV, not a single one of these cups gets recycled. (If you have ten extra minutes today, I highly recommend click on the TED link for the full Chris Jordan experience.):