chris jordan: running the numbers
chris jordan: running the numbers chris jordan: running the numbers
mar 26, 2010

chris jordan: running the numbers

gyre, 2009 image © chris jordan

seattle-based photographer chris jordan‘s manipulated digital images tell the story of human consumption and degradation.

a former corporate lawyer, jordan is dedicated to raising consciousness, through his art, of the far-reaching and destructive consequences of our everyday habits. his running the numbers – a series of carefully rendered photographic images – takes hard statistics and turns them into art that both dazzles and provokes.

close-up of gyre image © chris jordan

depicts 2.4 million pieces of plastic, equal to the estimated number of pounds of plastic pollution that enter the world’s oceans every hour. all of the plastic in this image was collected from the pacific ocean.

detail of the top of mountain fuji image © chris jordan

detail image © chris jordan

detail image © chris jordan

his project, intolerable beauty, is a looking glass into the prevailing culture of consumption. most recently, his work ‘midway – message from the gyre’ focuses on the life-cycle of the albatross in the north pacific ocean that confuses the vast pollution of trash in the water with food.

midway – message from the gyre, 2009 image © chris jordanas a result, the adult birds feed their nesting babies bellies-full of fatal plastic. jordan’s images of the exposed stomach content of the dead birds are starkly grotesque and, in the darkest possible way, beautifully compelling.

midway – message from the gyre, 2009 image © chris jordan

his most recent work is entitled year of the tiger. similarly to the first running the numbers series, each image portrays a specific quantity of something, visualizing mass phenomena that occur on a global scale.

year of the tiger, 2010 image © chris jordan

depicts 3200 toy tigers, equal to the estimated number of tigers remaining on earth. the space in the middle would hold 40,000 of these tigers, equal to the global tiger population in 1970.

detail of year of the tiger image © chris jordan

mountainfilm has published an interview with chris jordan.

see also chris jordan’s TED talk:

running the numbers is a traveling exhibition

2011 upcoming: sordoni art gallery, wilkes university, wilkes-barre, pa ‘running the numbers: portraits of mass consumption’ (aug 29 – dec 11)

2011 upcoming: international museum of art and science, mcallen, tx ‘chris jordan: running the numbers’ (aug – jan)

2011 upcoming: whatcom museum of history and art, bellingham, wa ‘chris jordan: running the numbers’ (apr – july)

2011 upcoming: jordan schnitzer museum of art, university of oregon, eugene ‘chris jordan: running the numbers’ (jan – mar)

2011 upcoming: university of colorado museum of natural history, boulder, co ‘running the numbers: portraits of mass consumption’ (jan 10 – april 30)

2010 upcoming: college of charleston, sc ‘chris jordan: running the numbers’ (fall)

2010 upcoming: seymour marine discovery center, uc santa cruz, ca ‘running the numbers: portraits of mass consumption’ (june 8 – december 12)

2010 upcoming: austin museum of art, austin tx ‘chris jordan: running the numbers’ (may 22 – aug. 15)

  • Staggering. Laudable. Art as the messenger. Plastic waste is such a big problem. Bravo to Chris Jordan for hammering this home so beautifully and powerfully.

    beth worth says:
  • Chris Jordan is awesome. He tackles so many issues with his art, he maks it hard not to be aware and moved by it.

    Thabata says:
  • Bravo! Way to go. If you’re interested, here’s a link to another plastic waste project that is currently crossing the Pacific from San Fran to Sydney. The catamaran is made from 2l plastic bottles and other sundry plastics. The link is:


    Jetwax says:
  • This is fantastic, Great work Chris.

    Art with a message rather than art for art’s sake. Another talented artisan who has highlighted the plight of our oceans due to plastic waste.

    kent gration says:

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