20 January 2009

plastic bags

a consistent frustration for me at my local grocer is the automatic bagging of items that i could easily carry without the aid of a plastic bag. while i am fumbling for my cash or entering my pin number, the cashier will, without fail and without asking, place my item(s) in a bag. doesn't matter if it's a loaf of bread, a twelve pack of beer or a single 12oz bottle of juice it's automatic--so much so that they do it even when i request otherwise. if i catch them early enough, they can remove it from the bag before they pull it from the bag holder. if they've already pulled the bag, i just bite my tongue and take it because on more than one occasion, i've witnessed a cashier take my goods out and then throw the bag away. my guess is that it is just too difficult to place items in a plastic bag once said bag is removed it's holder/opener.

well, it happened to me again this morning. this time with a bagel that was already inside the small bag i put it in at the bakery section and after i asked for no bag prior to the transaction. there's just no winning i suppose.

anyway, i left the store with the below images by Chris Jordan flashing through my mind. i'm not sure when exactly i stumbled across Jordan's work but it has definitely left a lasting impression. it's one thing to read that, say, americans use 60,000 plastics bags every 5 seconds but it's another thing to see what 60,000 plastic bags looks like while you count to five.

maybe we all need to have a look at this stuff:

Plastic Bags (2007)
Chris Jordan

partial zoom:

detail at actual size:

from jordan's website:

"Running the Numbers
An American Self-Portrait

Running the Numbers looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. 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. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 32,000 breast augmentation surgeries in the U.S. every month.

This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. Employing themes such as the near versus the far, and the one versus the many, I hope to raise some questions about the roles and responsibililties of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming."

~chris jordan, Seattle, 2008

mosey on over to his site and have a look at some of the other images. you won't soon forget them (plus, the pictures are bigger).

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