I’m exceptionally late to the party with this one, as it’s a series from 2003-2005 – so apologies if it’s old news to you. But in case you haven’t already seen it, Chris Jordan’s Intolerable Beauty – Portraits of American Mass Consumption is well worth a look:
Cell phones #2, Atlanta 2005
Circuit boards, Atlanta 2004
The strange combination of beauty and horror for me also serves as a potent metaphor for our consumerism. When you stand at a distance, consumerism can look pretty attractive—all the nice shiny cars and houses and clothes and plasma TVs and so on. But when you get up close and look at our overworked dysfunctional families, the waste streams of our products, the wars our greed is fostering, worldwide environmental degradation, toxic metals in the breast milk of Eskimo women, birth defects in the children of the mothers who assemble our electronics in China, then you start to see that our consumer lifestyle is not so pretty. I try to create this effect in my photos, where it looks like one thing from a distance and then up close you realize it is something else.
Also by Chris Jordan and well worth checking out, are his series Running the Numbers (and Running the Numbers II) which are stunningly beautiful visualisations. The first looks at “contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics”, where “each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on”. The second looks at “mass phenomena that occur on a global scale…the number of tuna fished from the world’s oceans every fifteen minutes, for example”.
Barbie Dolls, from the first Running the Numbers series, in 2008, was particularly arresting – it features 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006:
Detail at actual print size:
[ full interview about Intolerable Beauty at Orion Magazine ]
You’re all familiar, I’m sure with the original WW II Keep Calm & Carry On poster:
Recently I’ve been noticing some credit-crunch themed versions popping up:
And then I started to see more and more random ones popping up around the place, which tickled me:
And the obligatory design in-joke:
But for me, the calendar surpassed them all:
[ click on images for all original sources ]
The fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square has got a lot of press over the last few years. For the uninitated, the fourth plinth, in the northwest corner of Trafalgar Square, remained empty after it was installed in 1841 due to a lack of funds for the proposed equestrian statue. It’s now a location for contemporary art works which usually stay on the plinth for a year or two – the best known of its commissions has probably been Alison Lapper Pregnant.
And now it could be you:
This summer, sculptor Antony Gormley invites you to help create an astonishing living monument. He is asking the people of the UK to occupy the empty Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, a space normally reserved for statues of Kings and Generals. They will become an image of themselves, and a representation of the whole of humanity.
Every hour, 24 hours a day, for 100 days without a break, a different person will make the Plinth their own.
It’ll run for 100 days from 6th July – meaning 2,400 people in total will get the chance. Registration’s now open at One & Other.
[ thanks to Geoff for the heads up ]
The Crisis of Credit – Visualized (sic) by Jonathan Jarvis does exactly what it says on the tin – telling the (not so short and simple) story of the credit crisis in a short and simple way. Well worth 10 mins of your time:
I’m sure everyone’s also seen it by now, but on the off chance you haven’t, the Sub Prime Primer is a fantastic accompaniment to the above…
[ via & image above courtesy of infosthetics ]