Described by Portfolio as "the unofficial artist of the Harper's Index," photographer Chris Jordan creates massive images that illustrate stunning statistics. Shown above is "Cans Seurat" (2007), a recreation of George Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" and part of Jordan's "Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait." Some facts about Jordan's own life and artistic motivations:
1. "Cans Seurat" measures 60" by 92" and depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number of cans used in the U.S. every thirty seconds. Explaining the large scale of his art, Chris Jordan has said, ""¦the size of the prints carries part of the message—the consumerism issue is huge and complex and overwhelming, and I want the prints to feel that way."
2. Before becoming a full-time photographer, Jordan worked for 10 years as a lawyer. He had attended law school "for all the wrong reasons," though, and spent all his free time and money on photography. As Jordan describes it, "I tried to do both, but each one leaked into the other; my legal career suffered and I was perpetually frustrated at not having enough time to photograph." Nearing 40, Jordan became motivated by "the fear of not living my life" to ditch his legal career and pursue his photography full-time.
3. Feeling that "color photography is to the eyes what jazz is to the ears," Jordan is most artistically influenced by music. He has played jazz piano since childhood and considers music and art "different languages for expressing the same experience."
4. Jordan heard statistics and often wondered, "What, exactly, does that mean? What does that number look like?" By creating his "Running the Numbers" series, Jordan hopes to have a different effect than raw numbers alone, since "statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing."
5. Like many people, Jordan "always envied famous people and craved to be one of the "˜chosen ones,'" but has since realized fame doesn't quite live up to the hype. According to Jordan, all the attention "has turned out"¦ to be fatiguing and filled with anxiety"¦ it is more like a symptom that I need to deal with more carefully from now on."
Larger versions of "Cans Seurat", a partial zoom of the image, and the details at actual size are available from Jordan's site. Fans should check out Chris Jordan's Web site; the Bill Moyers profile of Jordan; Jordan's presentations at TED and Greener Gadgets; and Jordan on The Colbert Report. "Feel Art Again" appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with artist suggestions or details of current exhibitions.