Chris Jordan – Picturing Excess

Chris Jordan is one of the most amazing visual artists working today.  If you haven’t been introduced to his photographic artwork, now is the time to become acquainted.  Check out his web-site at  His works are enormous, aesthetically beautiful, mind-boggling, and thought-provoking.  I was introduced to Chris’ works through a video of his presentation on TED Talks.  This may be a great starting point for anyone who is not yet familiar with what Chris is doing. 

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan

Chris puts statistics into a visual format so that we can truly understand.  Facts and statistics are often provided to inform or to educate.  However, statistics and facts are overwhelming and often completely impossible to comprehend.  A problem arises when facts contain very large numbers.  What does 1 billion actually mean?  When statistics contain gigantic numbers, they lose their meaning because it is just too difficult to comprehend how big they really are.  Chris’ work attempts to break down the barriers between the language of statistics and facts that bombard us in an age of information overload, and to allow us to find meaning. 

Chris understands that seeing is believing, and he creates a visual portrait of our world today that allows us to see and understand just how wasteful we are.  Chris has created two series of works titled Running the Numbers.  The first series is An American Self-Portrait.  His second is A Portrait of Global Mass Culture.  The works in these series show us an arresting view of what Western culture looks like.  His supersized images picture some almost unimaginable statistics — like the astonishing number of paper cups we use every single day.

Running the Numbers

Running the Numbers

Chris creates these enormous images in order to help us feel more as a society; in order for issues to really matter to us.  He aims to break through the anesthetizing effect that most statistics have.  His main goal is to help us to wake up from our slumbering state of mass consumption, to face the facts, and to find ways to create change.  His artworks make us confront the real issues of our time, and they make us question how we are going to create change.  Perhaps this is why I love Chris’ work so much.  I feel where Chris is coming from.   Often I feel the need to scream WAKE UP.  I feel that too many of us need to wake up and take our heads out of the sand.  It is time for us to stop pretending that there is nothing wrong with our culture of global mass consumption.  It is time for us to stop many things.  It is time for us to wake up, and to demand change, create change, and to be the change that we want to see in this world.


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