Meet Chris Jordan, an artist who is photographing a different perspective on numbers. In today’s society when numbers and statistics are bantered around without much perspective, Chris is using art to show the magnitude of our consumerism.
As a person working in Web Analytics, I find Chris’ perspective to be very powerful. Certainly, it is much more powerful than the charts and graphs that we work with on a daily basis.
In Chris’s own words, “Exploring 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, I find evidence of a slow-motion apocalypse in progress. I am 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 me its consistent feature is a staggering complexity.”
Now, please, please visit his work here.
Then, after looking at Chris’ work, keep in mind another perspective brought about by Thomas Friedman in his book “Hot, Flat and Crowded“. Friedman uses the term Americum [uh-mer-i-kum] n: any group of 350 million people with a per capita income above $15,000 and a growing penchant for consumerism (first coined by Tom Burke of E3G). Friedman says there were about 2.5 Americums in the 1950’s (America, Western Europe and Japan) and now we are approaching 9 (America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Russia, Japan, India, China and South America) – with 2 more just around the corner (India and China each giving birth to a second Americum). He refers to them as America’s “carbon copies.” Ouch. He goes on to say that the energy and natural resource implications of that are staggering, and therefore we need to redefine what it means to “live like an American.” You can read more on Karl Fisch’s blog.