“Glass,” from Chris Jordan’s series “Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption.”

Photographer Chris Jordan uses art to draw attention to mass consumption in our society. Global statistics about climate change are easy to read about, but hard to really comprehend. “When we actually see a physical, visual depiction of that quantity, it blows our mind every single time because we actually weren’t comprehending that number at all,” Jordan said.

Jordan’s work draws attention to environmental issues by attempting to give a sense of magnitude. Though his artwork is aesthetic, Jordan seems to use it to garner support for science. Jordan has collaborated with activists and organizations such as National Geographic on ecological projects.

Jordan’s photography helps raise awareness of climate problems, although at this point I wonder how many people are unaware. Of course, more discussion is still more discussion, and helps. 

The work does not directly lead to a call to action – it’s not as direct as something like “Ice Watch,” by Olafur Eliasson, which arranges large blocks of arctic ice in a circle representing a clock. However it conveys a message in common with “Ice Watch;” the Earth is going through big problems due to humanity.

Chris Jordan’s photography does not have a large environmental cost – the impact of his camera, and perhaps plane travel (for his “Midway” series), isn’t radically different from an average American’s footprint. If you factor in its potential to “create and generate change,” Jordan’s photography has clearly achieved carbon negativity. (A positive thing)

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