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Midway: Chris Jordan’s TrashTalk (Part 1)

April 11, 2013


Did you know that 2.4 million pieces of plastic enter our oceans every hour? That 10% of the world plastic production enters the ocean? That 70% of the plastic in ocean flows from rivers?

ecoliteracy_graphicTuesday, April 9, 2013, artist Chris Jordan presented his work at Pacifica Graduate Institute where I am working on a PhD in Depth Psychology with an Emphasis in Community, Liberation, and Ecopsychology. On Wednesday, he joined some of us “EcoDreamers” for  a lunchtime conversation about the work, what it means, why it matters, and about how he is bringing it to the world.

Chris Jordan makes meaning from information by turning data, relevant materials, and statistics into art. This image above is made up of 2.4 million pieces of ocean plastic which represents the amount of plastic that enters the ocean every hour. He began by collecting the plastic and sorting it into the various colors and then painfully creating this mosaic. Here’s a new interview with Chris Jordan

If this is all the time you have, please watch the video below. If you have a little more time, read on and watch the next video. I have several pages of notes and ideas that I’m not going to get posted today, so please come back for Part 2. (It’s easy–Subscribe!)

Listen to him speak about this work and see images in this TED Talk:

After doing this kind of work for many years and achieving some success (hence this 2008 TED Talk),

The artwork Ben Franklin by artist Chris Jordan

The artwork Ben Franklin by artist Chris Jordan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chris turned his attention to the “Plastic Island” that most people assume is floating out there stuck in gyres in the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Chris figured if there was that much plastic collected there–some say double the size of Texas–he should be able to photograph it and so do his “number” on it so to speak.

But what he learned is that “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is not a floating plastic island like so many interlocking legos. The plastic is broken down into  chucks and bits and those pieces float apart and together–and they are not just on the surface but deep in the murky depths of the ocean.

Someone suggested that if he wanted to see, photograph and understand the “plastic island”, he should visit Midway Island which sticks up above the ocean some 2000 miles from other shores.

This is where tons of plastic is washed up on shore.

And this where hundreds of thousands of albatross nest…and raise their babies, filling their stomachs with squid and other materials they scoop up from the surface of the sea.

That material that stays stuck in their stomachs is the remnants of our plastic trash, with devastating, heart-breaking results.

What’s it going to take to break our addiction to plastic? How many animals and species of animals do we need to decimate before we discover we have killed off important parts of ourselves?

Please come back for part 2 of this series.

Watch the trailer for Chris Jordan’s Midway film here.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2013 3:45 am

    Reblogged this on whisper down the write alley and commented:

    I presented this blog post in class last week, we watched part or all of the videos, and we discussed the connection to our own research projects. Important work!


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