Sunday, April 26, 2009

The statistical art of Chris Jordan [Sunday shout-out]

Most Sundays, Build/Make/Craft/Bake features the work of an artist or other creative type. Suggestions for future Sunday shout-outs may be sent to 

Can you easily picture the difference between a million and a billion? Yeah, me neither. It's hard to truly understand large numbers or statistics without a good frame of reference. 

Chris Jordan's art provides such a reference. Sure, I can tell you that inefficient electricity consumption in U.S. homes wastes 320,000 kilowatt-hours of energy each minute, but that's much easier to understand by looking at Jordan's image of 320,000 light bulbs, one for each of those wasted kilowatt-hours: 

"Light Bulbs" by Chris Jordan, 2008. All images courtesy of Chris Jordan.

Click the images for a larger view. 

Detail, "Light Bulbs".

And here we have 166,000 styrofoam peanuts, one for each of the overnight packages shipped every hour in the United States:
"Packing Peanuts", by Chris Jordan, 2009.

Detail, "Packing Peanuts".

You know those little plastic beverage cups they hand out on airplanes? Apparently, they hand out a lot of them. Like  1,000,000 every 6 hours on flights in the US alone. How many is that? Take a look:

"Plastic Cups", by Chris Jordan, 2008. 

"Plastic Cups", detail.

These images are all from Jordan's series, Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait. I don't know about you, but I'll be checking them out in person at the Portland Art Museum, where they're on display until July 12, 2009. You can also see the full collection online at Chris Jordan Photographic Arts

Enjoy your Sunday! 

Recent Sunday shout-outs:

1 comment:

  1. These are so cool! I really like the light bulb pic--I might use it with my second graders to try to get a handle on large numbers!


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