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Chris Jordan
at Austin Museum of Art, Downtown 
Austin, Texas
Recommendation by Annabelle Sanders

Continuing through August 15, 2010

The painter Hieronymus Bosch was, you could say, 15th century Europe\'s go-to guy for effective depictions of the afterlife in Hell, assumed to be each person\'s possible fate in those days. Here in the more secular 21st century, Hell is more often the concern what we might make of life on earth with poor sewardship. The point of Chris Jordan\'s work, in his mindblowing \"Running the Numbers\" show currently complicating the walls of the Museum\'s big downtown venue, is that it\'s not what one can make of this world but what all of us together - 1 x 6.5 billion of us - are making of it.

The artist takes statistics of worldwide environmental and social damage - so many kilowatts of electricity wasted per hour, so many millions of cell phones discarded each day, so many gun-related deaths per year - and renders them in roomsized photographs that jar the eye and the mind in equal proportions. The giant images are either montages riffing off of familiar works (Seurat\'s \"Grand Jatte,\" the \"Mount McKinley\" and \"Wonder Lake\" photographs of Ansel Adams) or, more often, original designs as eye-popping as the damning facts they represent. You may have seen these images online or watched the video of Jordan\'s presentation for the TED Talks series. The impact of his urgent, obsessive photo-manipulations can be fully felt only when they\'re life-size and nearly overpowering the gallery around you.

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