28 Mar 2008

How Many Bottles?

Chris Jordan has a project called Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait
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.
This method of presentation is brilliant, since it helps you understand the true impact of what we are collectively doing to ourselves and our planet. (As usual, "everybody does it and nobody is responsible.") Take a look at this picture and then decide how much you like bottled water (the website has zoomed images):

Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.