Chris Jordan, Cans Seurat in the series Running the Numbers
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 and critically, the stuff we consume. 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.” (via)
Do you think that this is an effective visualization? What do you think about this photographic collage after slowly observing?
Tokujin Yoshioka often transforms simple everyday objects into beautiful creations. This is apparent in his piece Tornado that he installed in Miami using 2 million plastic straws.
Installation artwork translates well to 2-d platforms such as tumblr because it encourages you to imagine how the space must look. So dedicate some time to observing this work slowly.
What do you think about Yoshioka’s installation?