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Running the Numbers by Chris Jordan

February25

Running the Numbers looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 32,000 breast augmentation surgeries in the U.S. every month.

This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. Employing themes such as the near versus the far, and the one versus the many, I hope to raise some questions about the roles and responsibilities we each play as individuals in a collective that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

  • Packing Peanuts

Depicts 166,000 packing peanuts, equal to the number of overnight packages shipped by air in the U.S. every hour.

  • Oil Barrels

Depicts 28,000 42-gallon barrels, the amount of oil consumed in the United States every two minutes (equal to the flow of a medium-sized river).

  • Toothpicks

Depicts one hundred million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees cut in the U.S. yearly to make the paper for junk mail.

  • Barbie Dolls

Depicts 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006.