Chris Jordan’s photographs are garbage. Literally.

He starts with some startling statistic about how much Americans throw away–say, the 106,000 aluminum pop and beer cans we toss every 30 seconds, or the one million plastic cups used on US airlines every six hours. Then he photographs stacks and piles of those objects–cell phones, plastic bottles, paper grocery bags–again and again. He takes those images and makes digital composites that show–in gigantic prints–the actual number of items thrown away. The results are these mesmerizing, abstract images that only reveal their true components up close.

In one image, Jordan pays homage to the pointillist masterpiece, Georges Seurat’s “Sunday in the Park.” Zooming in, you can see the “points” are actual cans.

Hysterical Stephen Colbert interview with Chris Jordan on the Colbert Report (October 2007) here.

Detail of Chris Jordan’s “Cans Seurat”

Detail of Chris Jordan’s “Can Seurat.”

His exhibit, “Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait” is touring the nation now, and currently at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Ohio and the Handwerker Gallery at Ithaca College in New York.