Running the Numbers



Chris Jordan is a contemporary American photographer who in 2007 embarked an a 'massive' project. He wanted to visualise the disposable society we of the first world live in and quantify the amount of waste we generate.

The result is an amazing series of very large scale photographs called 'Running the Numbers'. The actual size of the prints he made of these images are around 1.5 metres high by 2.5 metres wide.

Unfortunately the only way to experience the full impact of these images would be to see them in real life. However I thought it worthwhile showing a few of them at different magnifications to give you an idea of what they are like and how they have been created.

The first photograph below is called 'Plastic Cups'. When you look at the image in its entirety it looks like a futuristic ant farm or a complex maze of pipes. But if you move in closer it becomes apparent that these 'pipes' are made up of plastic cups stacked on top of each other.

How many plastic cups you ask? One million, the number used on airline flights in the USA every six hours!

Take a closer look...

This next image looks to me like a close-up of grains of coloured sand. It is in fact two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the USA every five minutes.

Take a closer look...

This looks like a piece of grey sand paper or finely grained laminex. It is in fact 426,000 cell phones, equal to the number of cell phones retired in the US every day.

Take a closer look...

This is a rather good copy of a famous painting by French artist Seurat. It is made up of 106,000 aluminium cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.

Take a closer look...

Finally, this is a photograph of a quote by Energizer Consumer Relations. It is made up of 170,000 disposable Energizer batteries, equal to fifteen minutes of Energizer battery production.

And on closer inspection...

You can see more of these thought provoking images at the photographer's website -

You can also see a video of a talk given by Chris about this series of work here.

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