Nth Power

Cans Seurat (Chris Jordan 2007) 1

A fascinating and provocative slideshow from Seed Magazine explores the intriguing art of Chris Jordan in The Age of Impossible Numbers.

Here’s how writer Greg Boustead explains it:

“The human brain is poorly equipped for comprehending massive quantities. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective; large numbers are relatively new features of our mental landscapes. Thousands, millions, billions, and recently trillions—once reserved for describing cosmic distances of faraway galaxies—have been brought down to Earth in terms of the national deficits we accrue, the bytes of information we clock, and critically, the stuff we consume. But how to wrap one’s head around such unfathomable figures in a meaningful way? In Running the Numbers, photographer Chris Jordan attempts to convey the vastness of modern consumption by breaking down annual statistics into more graspable quantities depicted by clever visualizations made of individual objects or groups of objects that he photographs. The 106,000 aluminum cans consumed in the US every 30 seconds, for instance, become the individual dots of Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. ‘There’s a disconnect that happens when we assume we know what we’re talking about when we talk about hundreds of millions of plastic bottles,’ Jordan says. ‘I’m trying to translate these numbers from the deadening language of statistics into a visual language that allows some kind of comprehension.’”

Jordan’s work recently completed a showing (Running the Numbers) at the Pacific Science Center in January.

If you’re as captivated as we are by these images forged from contemporary life, see more of Chris Jordan’s work on his website for current work.

You might also wish to see this brief interview which appeared last December in Seattle Metropolitan Magazine.

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Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] Power Squared Not too long ago (in Nth Power), we discussed the works of artist Chris Jordan and a delightful slideshow Seed Magazine had […]


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