Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan is a Seattle based photographer whose current and past works deal with the idea of consumerism, consumption, and waste; thus the well known American lifestyle. Specifically, two individual bodies of work confront the viewer into a grotesque realization of the epic proportions of waste in this country, using the idea of visual language as a multiplier and medium for numbers. and Chris turns appalling but simultaneously all too real statistics into fine art that challenges the viewer and poses important questions about the individual’s role in contributing to the scene before them. The work is printed large scale, wall size in fact, and the sheer immensity of the scene is astonishing. I saw this work at Yossi Milo a couple of years ago, and I literally stood there staring. I just couldn’t believe the statistics. Sure, I’d heard them before. But to see them, and I mean REALLY see them in front of your eyes, is almost unfathomable to the human imagination. Chris truly opens your eyes in that sense. Not only is the sheer number of things in each photograph so immense that it’s hard to even get your head around it, but because they go right to the edges in his composition, they imply going on forever, as in the next few seconds, hours, days, years, etc. They not only address what is happening now, every passing second in the present, but what is to come in all too soon future.

In “Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption”, Chris explores “around our country’s shipping ports and industrial yards, where the accumulated detritus of our consumption is exposed to view like eroded layers in the Grand Canyon, he finds evidence of a slow-motion apocalypse in progress. He is appalled by these scenes, and yet also drawn into them with awe and fascination. The immense scale of our consumption can appear desolate, macabre, oddly comical and ironic, and even darkly beautiful; for him its consistent feature is a staggering complexity. He fears that in this process we are doing irreparable harm to our planet and to our individual spirits.”

Crushed Cars

Cell Phone Chargers

Cell Phones

Cigarette Butts

Scrap Metal

In “Running the Numbers: An American Self Portrait”, Chris 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. His 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.”

Cans Seurat, 2007
60×92″ Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.




Plastic Bags, 2007
60×72″ Depicts 60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the US every five seconds.



To see more of Chris’s thought and change provoking work, please visit his website here.


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