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February 29, 2008
Seattle-based artist Chris Jordan has a provocative and thoughtful approach to using photo-based art to underline the excesses of human consumption and other atrocities. His series, Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait, uses cleverly designed huge images to convey the vastness of waste and other ridiculous human behavior.
Barbie Dolls, 2008, 60"x80", depicts 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006:
Detail at actual print size:
The artist has this to say on his website:
"This 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 410,000 paper cups used every fifteen minutes. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.
"My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so."
Thanks to Patrick Nagle for pointing us to this one.