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Photographic Artist Chris Jordan
Crushed cars by Chris Jordan
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August 7, 2009

Former corporate attorney turned photographic artist, Chris Jordan explains that he never used to be focused upon making a social statement with his work. "All I was interested in about photography was aesthetic beauty...places where color appears inadvertently."

Yet after photographing a large pile of garbage that he deemed "really beautiful," friends began to point him toward the social repercussions inherent inhis work regarding waste and American consumerism. "It's something that I truly cannot take credit for, is finding my way to consumerism as my subject. Becauseit found me."

Circuit boards, Atlanta 2004 from Chris Jordan's Intolerable Beauty Series:

Circuitboards by Chris Jordan

"There's this contrast between the beauty in the images and the underlying grotesqueness of the subjects. And it's something that I put in thereintentionally. I know that if I were to take ugly photographs no one would be interested in looking at them," states Jordan about his IntolerableBeauty series.

Jordan's latest project, Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait, seeks to maketangible statistics about our country's consumption that involve such large numbers that they are difficult to fully fathom on the page. "Our minds are just not wired to be ableto really comprehend and make meaning of, and feel, numbers that are that huge," Jordan explains. "I think there's this worldwide cultural craving for a more sensible approach to our consumption."

Below from "Running the Numbers," Jordan recreates George Seurat's famous painting "Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte" using 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds:Cans Seurat by Chris Jordan

Size plays an important part in the new series, with certain pictures over 10 feet high and 25 feet wide. "I want people to realize that they matter," Jordandescribes. "As you walk up close, you can see that the collective is only made up of lots and lots of individuals. There is no bad consumer over there somewherewho needs to be educated. There is no public out there who needs to change. It's each one of us." Cans Seurat (magnified) by Chris Jordan

>Watch and Respond: Jordan discusses his series "In Katrina's Wake"

Related Media:
Medical practitionersMoyers on the Environment
We've collected JOURNAL coverage of the environment selections from the father of sociobiology E.O. Wilson to the environmental risks for mountaintop mining to a photographic artist who makes pictures out of our trash.

References and Reading:
Chris Jordan's Web site
Explore his latest photo series, read selected press, and find out more about Jordan's artistic process and aims.

GRIST: Laid to Waste
Environmental Magazine, GRIST, profiles Chris Jordan and his series depicting the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

ORION MAGAZINE interviews Chris Jordan about his Intolerable Beautyseries

Ex-lawyer's lens snatches poetry from a fleeting world ofwaste
By Regina Hackett, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, September 23, 2005
"Savvy can take him only so far. It's the force and beauty of his work, theclarity of color and the audacity of the manipulated printing process, that will carry him into the future, documenting what he calls the 'slow-motionapocalypse' of our use-and-discard society."

A Great Big Beautiful Pile of Junk
By Philip Gefter, THE NEWYORK TIMES, July 24, 2005
A NEW YORK TIMES profile on Jordan's Intolerable Beauty series.
Also This Week:
Bill Moyers speaks with one of America's leading educators and author of THE THIRD CHAPTER: PASSION RISK AND ADVENTURE IN THE 25 YEARS AFTER 50.

>From the Moyers Digital Archive: Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot interviewed in 1988

Photographic Artist Chris Jordan turns the statistics of consumerism into palpable images in his new photo series.

>Jordan discusses his photo series on Hurricane Katrina

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