More about Chris Jordan and his film, Midway…

Chris Jordan’s message from the gyre

by criedy

I’ve been an admirer of Chris Jordan’s digital photographic art for several years now. HisRunning the Numbers series paints an unflattering portrait of American and global consumer culture that presents environmental messages in a fresh light. He creates images using repetition of familiar consumer items and waste, typically with an ironic twist. For example, below is his work ‘Whale‘ from 2011.


Whale, 2011 by Chris JordanWhale, 2011 by Chris Jordan

What at first glance seems to be a nice picture of a whale turns out to be something more sinister. The work is constructed (digitally) from 50,000 plastic bags, equal to the estimated number of pieces of floating plastic in every square mile in the world’s oceans. The website allows you to zoom in to see the individual plastic bags, as shown in the view below of the whale’s eye. It’s a sad indictment on the state of the Earth’s oceans.


Whale, 2011, detail by Chris JordanWhale, 2011, detail by Chris Jordan

On Midway Atoll, a remote cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent, the detritus of our mass consumption surfaces in an astonishing place: inside the stomachs of thousands of dead baby albatrosses. The nesting chicks are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food as they forage over the vast polluted Pacific Ocean.

For me, kneeling over their carcasses is like looking into a macabre mirror. These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth. Like the albatross, we first-world humans find ourselves lacking the ability to discern anymore what is nourishing from what is toxic to our lives and our spirits. Choked to death on our waste, the mythical albatross calls upon us to recognize that our greatest challenge lies not out there, but in here.

~ Chris Jordan, Seattle, February 2011

In 2009, Jordan began travelling to Midway Atoll, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2,000 miles from the nearest continent. What he found and photographed there is sickening. Inside the stomachs of dead baby albatrosses he found deadly plastic waste from human civilisation that had found its way even to this remote place.

The photographs he took are macabre and disturbing. These intimate portraits of death by plastic are strangely beautiful, yet behind each photograph is a story of pain and suffering that tears at your heart. I’ve included a selection of his photographs below.

Photo from Midway by Chris Jordan
Photo from Midway by Chris Jordan





Jordan is currently working on a film about his experiences on the island, called Midway. The trailer is below. I find it even more haunting than the images, because it shows the pain that lies unspoken in the photographs. If anyone ever doubts the impact that humans have on the Earth, show them this trailer and these images. Our civilisation brings death even to this remote part of the globe. We must find new ways to live with our beautiful planet that work with the Earth’s systems, not against them. For some people, this artwork will bring that message home more powerfully than words ever can.



The artwork Ben Franklin by artist Chris Jordan

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





14 thoughts on “More about Chris Jordan and his film, Midway…

  1. thanks so much denise, i have reblogged it on dadirridreaming, and linked it to my Pick Up Plastic project through which i am hoping to encourage bloggers to become aware of the scale of the problem …


    • Hello Christine,
      I have been following your photo blog, and now I have found Dadirridreaming, a beautiful site.
      Your PUP Projet, Pick Up Plastic, is a great idea for us all to follow. ( ) Thank you for contribution to our planet!

      Enlightenment to me is being aware and awake. Sadly most of us are still asleep, and while sleep walking, are destroying our planet with our unconscious actions.
      Plastic is an oil based product, so when we stop the oil, we will stop the plastic. Here is a great link about plastic, and a biodegradable plastic solution. But do we really NEED plastic in our lives?


    • This is a misrepresentation of facts. Yes there are some birds in this flock that are addicted to swallowing brightly colored objects. I’m quite sure the vast majority of the flock are more sensible. This also occurs with ostriches where a very small percentage commit suicide eating rubbish.

      Natural selection will soon eliminate the “swallowers”

      Yes , lets keep our environment clean and heathy


      • Yes, I am sure the more sensible Albatross’ will save that species from the death that is inflected by our wasteful, out of control need for plastic drink bottles, and throw-a-way products. Eventually all the addicted Albatross will die, leaving us with such a delightful collection of bright colored plastic caps!

        One day we ourselves might disappear, the result of the Natural Selection process, and all that will be left of the human civilization will be our trash. Humanity’s unconcern for other species, for polluted oceans, and air, is not very sensible, and possibly suicidal!

        Thank you for your comment, I had such fun replying to it!


    • Hello Marieke,

      Welcome to our world! I think it would be difficult to explain to ourselves why we are so persistently trying to destroy it. Thank you for your comment, it was such a shocking visual for me to see also, a result of humanities thoughtless actions.
      Pass it on!


    • One picture is worth a thousand words…
      What we know intellectually does not register with us until we live it, or see it! This is the artist talking! His art is a service to our planet. I will be following his journey also. And maybe begin my own.
      Many thanks for your comment.


  2. Pingback: Creation groans for the manifestation of the sons of God | Nature and Us

  3. Pingback: Chris Jordan’s Portraits of American Mass Consumption | Tim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s