October 18, 2007
Chris Jordan on Consumerism
Chris Jordan is the first speaker on the PopTech stage this morning. He is one of the more inspiring speakers I have heard in awhile. So much emotion, so much passion, so much inspiration -- all to movitate us as viewers of his photographic work to think dramatically different about consumerism.
When it comes to consumerism and waste, it’s often difficult to comprehend scale. Through images, Chris Jordan gives us a taste of how far we have taken mass consumerism in this country. For example, he has used nine million alphabet blocks to represent the number of uninsured American children.
These images represent the amount of quantities we actually consume on a regular basis. He shows us a photo of 426,000 cell phones, which is the number of cell phones that we discard in the U.S. every day. (click on any of the below images for a larger view). If this isn't painful yet, read on.
His goal with this image and others, is to depict an actual statistic visually. He began to apply this same technique to other statistics about our mass consumption. One project included building a giant stack of 15 million sheets of paper, which we learn is the amount of office paper we use in the U.S. every five minutes. (remember that this is only office paper, which means it excludes newspapers, magazines and all other kinds of paper)
Below is an image he shot of crushed cars
He shows us 60,000 plastic bags, which is the number of bags we use in the U.S. every five seconds. And then we see 106,000 alumimum cans, which is what we use in the U.S. every thirty seconds. Think about it: we waste half that amount of alumimum every year just to drink sugar water and watered down beer. By the time he throws up a visual of 210 billion plastic bottles on the screen, I'm beginning to feel slightly dizzy.
He takes statistics which are normally emotionless, and tries to make people 'feel' their impact. "The way people normally receive information is through statistics," says Jordan. "My concern is that people won't feel it and frankly, the more you learn, the more you don't want to feel it. If we're going to make dramatic changes, we're going to have to feel it. We'll have to feel the pain, the scale of it."
A recycling yard in Seattle
He continues, "I want to take these raw images and translate them from the dry language of numbers to a universal visual feeling in order to invoke change."
He talks to us about the connection between the collective and the individual. The collective is made up of lots of individuals. He says, "it's my way of affirming the role of the individual in today's society. We're learning more and more information about the complexity of our society every day and what is happening is that people are starting to think 'I'm too small and too insignificant to matter.' I want to change that. I want to suggest the opposite."
On the other side, he suggests that there's a needle on the opposite side of this thought process that says "I DO matter." If you feel like you don't mattter, then you'll never feel that your vote will matter or one action that you take will matter. If everyone has that attitude, then behavior won't change -- around the environment, around consumerism, around anything.....
Spent bullet casings
This series I have done is called "Running the Numbers." The response has been much greater than the artistic result of this work. "My work has become a hub of the movement, and what this tells me is how much people crave this level of consciousness and awareness. They're looking for answers."
His take away message to all of us: Going green is not a sacrifice but something that brings us joy, more connection to the earth and to other people. He tells us that there's hope, that there's a deep cultural movement that is dramatically changing the world right now. In other words, we should feel that there will be major strides to counter consumerism in the next ten years. Collective consciousness will take over. Frankly, doesn't it have to?
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Let me guess, the picture of the brass cartridges is representing the the number of casings "wasted" by US soldiers fighting the Global War on Terrorism. Hmm, well obviously your ignorance has lead you to assume that first, the military on the home front is wasteful on the shooting ranges and does not recycle the expended brass laying on the ground; and second, soldiers in a fire fight have the time to stop and pick up the cartridges while being shot at. Now lets back up. I being a soldier who has shot many rounds through many weapons can tell you first hand that after the fun is a painstaking process called "policing brass." Everyone gets on their hands and knees and picks up all of the brass cartridges they can find and they are then turned into the ammunition supply to be what? Oh that's right RELOADED AND REUSED. Imagine all that. And if you for what reason I don't know, think that a soldier with enemy lead flying inches away is going to stop in the middle of a fire fight and risk his life to pick up that brass casing or stop a convoy of military vehicles to pick up the brass cartridges that were ejected by the machine guns, your completely out of your mind. Oh and what about the lead and copper bullets that are shot out of those weapons? Wow 100% of those are never seen again, so what can we do about this? I know, how about SOY BULLETS?! Yeah, thats it, we'll make bullets out of soy because it's a renewable resource, right? And if you can't sense the sarcasm and actually think that's a logical solution, go ahead and knock some sense into yourself. You also say things to yourselves like "I can make a difference," and "My voice is heard," well, your not. Don't get me wrong I'm all about green alternatives but you people need to seriously wake up, cast away your ignorance and see the big picture. Not only that but all your kind do is sit at these meetings and complain and cry on each other's shoulders. Not one time in this article did I see where Chris Jordan gave ideas on what to do. All he did was "artistically" complain. BIG DEAL, we get it, there's a problem, now either do like many others out there and come up with LOGICAL solutions or SHUT UP. CRYING GETS NOTHING DONE.
Posted by: Random US Soldier | Mar 22, 2008 12:58:33 PM