Our lives are ruled by greed and materialistic pursuits, with people showing high level of consumerist behaviour and to an extent that we have reached a state of denial about how our lifestyle is damaging the environment.
US-based photographer and artist, Chris Jordan, through his photos shows the impact or rather the enormity of our actions that will leave you shocked in dismay. Jordan uses the most common things such as a plastic cup, bottle and so on which reflects the blind awareness involved in American consumerism. But that applies to everyone of us, because we all indulge in unconscious behavior.
His photographs look like one thing from a distance and when you get close to it you realize it is something else. This large scale mandala depicts 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 exact numbers are unknown but its between one and two million, and growing. The image is made of lines of text, and on standing close you can read the names, move little further away and the names are not legible anymore. As you move further away hte lines begin to look solid, and now we’re standing about 30 feet back from the piece, and this panel is the size of a movie screen. And this is it, it forms a mandala. This is a fascinating as well as unsettling way of looking at the real picture. Looking at plain statistics can be boring, so Jordan used a different technique. He has taken actual statistics and converted them into same number of objects to show grim picture. As you scroll down further, it becomes easier to understand.
This image depicts 320,000 light bulbs, equal to the number of kilowatt hours of electricity wasted in the US every minute from inefficient residential electricity usage like inefficient wiring, computers in sleep mode, etc. You zoom in little further.
From far away this is what it looks like. This one depicts one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours. On close up, this is what it looks like. The below photographs are quite unsettling, that’s the problem facing the world today as well, use of plastic bottles. Here two million plastic beverage bottles are used which is equal to the number used in the US every five minutes. A sea of plastic that stretches beyond our imagination. Move closer and it looks more ugly. This is a very common sight even in India, whether its 4000m above sea level or on ground level, plastic is dumped everywhere. Jordan has used 32,000 barbie dolls, which is equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006.
Another long-zoom artwork is of the amount of money US spends every hour on the Iraq war. Jordan has used 125,000 hundred dollar bills ($12.5 million), to show the amount the US government spends on the war.
On zooming in you see the real material used for this image.
Jordan’s work is the cumulative effect of consumerism. One person can’t be blamed for this, each one of us is responsible towards the environment, and it can only happen when you realise and become more aware of the consequences of your action.
You can see more of Chris Jordan’s work on his site.