Fantastic TED talk from Chris Jordan back in February 2008. Chris creates beautiful images that convey scale in the millions. Examples include statistics like the number of plastic cups used in a day — four million — and here showing one million of them:
The talk is ten minutes, and well worth a look. I’m linking a sinfully small version here, but check out the higher resolution version on the TED site.
As much as I love looking at this work (and his earlier portraits, more can be found on his site), there’s also something peculiar about the beauty of the images perhaps neutering their original point. Does seeing the number of prison uniforms spur viewers to action, or does it give chin-rubbing intellectual fulfillment accompanied by a deep sigh of worldliness? I’d hate to think it’s the latter. Someone I asked about this had a different reaction, and cited a group that had actually begun to act based on what they saw in his work. I wish I had the reference, but if that’s the case (and I hope it is), there’s no argument.
Looking at it another way, next time you reach for a plastic cup, will Jordan’s image that will come to mind? Will you make a different decision, even some of the time?
I’ve also just purchased his “Running the Numbers” book, since these web images are an injustice to the work. And I have more chin scratching and sighing to do.
(Thanks to Ron Kurti for the heads up on the video.)