During a recent trip to Vienna we wandered through a tube station that had digital art on the walls. There were questions such as “How much money has been spent on war this year” and then a screen with big red numbers increasing every second.
It is quite a startling thing when you have the numbers given to you in such a way, in such an unexpected place.
I discovered Chris Jordan this morning and the feeling was the same.
He works with digital images to depict mass consumption. The above is a work from 2007 depicting 2 million plastic bottles. The number used in the US every 5 minutes.
Here are 320,000 light bulbs, equal to the number of kilowatt hours of electricity wasted in the United States every minute from inefficient residential electricity usage (inefficient wiring, computers in sleep mode, etc.) done in 2008.
Van Gogh done in 50,000 cigarette lighters, equal to the estimated number of pieces of floating plastic in every square mile in the world’s oceans.
In 2009 he visited Midway Atoll, a remote cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent. He found thousands of dead baby albatrosses with plastic in their guts. The nesting chicks are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food as they forage over the vast polluted Pacific Ocean.
To see this represented so visually is quite a shock to wake up to on your lazy Saturday morning.
Jordan does do slightly more positive works.
His E Pluribus Unum which he did in 2010 is 24×24 feet laser artwork of aluminum panels etched with the the names of one million organizations around the world that are devoted to peace, environmental stewardship, social justice, and the preservation of diverse and indigenous culture. The actual number of such organizations is unknown, but estimates range between one and two million, and growing.
So is it a happy Saturday?