The Journal

by (re)vision society

Chris Jordan’s Mind Blowing Art

Insatiable, 2011 by Chris Jordan depicts 48,000 plastic spoons, equal to the number of gallons of oil consumed around the world every second.

A concept. It’s an idea, a general notion, that often stems from perceiving our physical surroundings, as we take in our world and try to make sense of it. A concept can, then, be transformed and reiterated through our dialogues and various forms of communication. It is an artist who can take these concepts and establish a conversation, creating tangible representations of the mere notions in our minds. It is the artist who frees the concept, giving it voice and substance.  

Perhaps it is the contemporary artist in which we can bestow our utmost respect. Contemporary art does not shy away from addressing society’s most pressing concerns, allowing the art to spark individual emotion and thought, eventually transitioning into outward dialogue with one another. Conversation is born and we begin to question our world.

Although we admire many artists, it is Chris Jordan who currently has us talking. And not just the (re)vision society team, but people spanning the globe. The Seattle-based artist is world-renowned, presenting his work at TED Talks and international exhibitions, all the while sharing the potent message behind his oeuvre. The message is literally in the artistic details.

It all stems from statistics. Chris merges the logic of the left brain with the creativity of the right to visually represent data that is often incomprehensible, yet critical to our lives. Chris takes critical statistics and develops intelligible art in his genius manner.

For instance, take Insatiable, 2011 (pictured above). At first glance, we are swept away to a country field at night, staring up at the pitch black sky and admiring the stars, in search of our favorite constellations and perhaps hoping to see a shooting star. It isn’t until you zoom in (and I mean literally follow that last link and click on the image and zoom in!) that the truth is unveiled: 48,000 black plastic spoons are laid amongst each other, with light reflections radiating from the curvature of the cutlery. These spoons equal the number of gallons of oil consumed around the world—every second.

Zoom in version of Chris Jordan’s artwork, Insatiable, 2011

Or how about Gyre, 2009, an image inspired by Katsushika Hokusai’s artwork, Under the Wave of Kanagawa. In Chris’s version, the wave is not life-giving water but instead 2.4 million pieces of plastic, equal to the number of pounds of plastic pollution that enters the world’s oceans—every hour. Even more impactful is the fact that all of the plastic displayed in Gyre, 2009 was collected from the Pacific Ocean. It is literally the trash from the Pacific shores that is depicted in the image of the Pacific wave.

Gyre, 2009 Depicts 2.4 million pieces of plastic, equal to the estimated number of pounds of plastic pollution that enter the world's oceans every hour. All of the plastic in this image was collected from the Pacific Ocean.

The statistics, so powerful in truth, are a tad more impactful when metaphorically compared to a galaxy panorama or a body of water. Both Insatiable, 2011 and Gyre, 2009 are a part of Chris Jordan’s “Running the Numbers II” collection—a collection of art that pictorially displays global mass culture. The majority of this collection unveils concepts we often discuss at (re)vision—namely, the enormity of humanity and how our collective perception of disposability has become a habitual norm. The normalness of disposing has created environmental issues so overwhelming that we often cannot understand ways to progressively move forward.

 

Zoom in image of Gyre, Chris Jordan’s 2009 work from the collection Running the Numbers II.

Chris doesn’t give us the solutions to move forward, but stands as a catalyst for deep thought and questioning. It is the after effects of Chris’s work where the true beauty lies. He is able to open our eyes to see the truth from an enlightened perspective, to take in and absorb the facts as he facilitates the connection between concept and reality, abstraction and concrete. Conversations ignite and begin to unravel as we share his perception and discuss the reality behind the art. Pictorially it begins to make sense and we begin to explore, invoking our thoughts and moving forward, forever changed.

 

Written by Kristin Agnes

 

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