Running the Numbers - Better Late Than Never

What happens when you combine a moody computer, capped internet speeds and a flu-ridden Kit? A post that I somehow managed to schedule a few months down the track, instead of last Friday. Genius! My apologies, it would appear that being ill is making me live up to my name quite successfully. So here, a few days late, is my Friday post...
There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy.
That used to be a huge number.
But it's only a hundred billion.
It's less than the national deficit!
We used to call them astronomical numbers.
Now we should call them economical numbers.

- Richard Feynman (1918-1988)
I don't know about you, but when I was growing up the richest person in the world was merely a millionaire, and even that seemed astronomical. The numbers that are being thrown around at the moment are incomprehensible to most, and they seem to have lost their meaning. Billions, trillions...whatever, right?

It's so easy to become desensitised from the numbers and statistics that we're bombared with on a daily basis, which is why I find the work of Chris Jordan so compelling and incredibly powerful.

He quantifies crucial statistics in a way that makes them understandable; he translates often shocking numbers into images of confronting beauty. In his first Running the Numbers series, he creates a self-portrait of American culture that is both profound and disturbing.

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Prison Uniforms, 2007
10x23 feet in six vertical panels

Depicts 2.3 million folded prison uniforms, equal to the number of Americans incarcerated in 2005. The U.S. has the largest prison population of any country in the world.

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Cans Seurat, 2007

Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.

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Ben Franklin, 2007
8.5 feet wide by 10.5 feet tall in three horizontal panels

Depicts 125,000 one-hundred dollar bills ($12.5 million), the amount our government spends every hour on the war in Iraq.

This year Jordan has turned his attention to the global trends of consumerism with Running the Numbers II, and the numbers are just as staggering and distressing. With my brutally capped internet I can barely even view any of his amazing new works, but I hope that throughout the year, as Jordan's collection and acclaim grows, the message he is trying to convey will finally be heard by those who need to hear it most.


Caroline said...

wow, thanxs! hope you feel better too!

Joanna Lee said...

Speechless! Artists who can show their view through art are amazing!

Hope you're feeling a little better, Kit.

Brandi said...

This is an incredible post. I'm so glad you found these things and decided to share.

Big Mark 243 said...

Man, I am glad that I read your journal! I find this work amazing.

Hope you are doing better, sweetie!