Gallery: Chris Jordan’s Wave Illustrates Ocean Garbage


Photographic artist Chris Jordan never ceases to amaze us with his clever pieces that allow people to “see” concepts that are often difficult to visualize. We submit for your viewing pleasure, his latest work, Gyre. Look familiar? The 8′ x 11′ triptych is based on the famous Japanese painting, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Hokusai. Instead of paint, the colors are composed of 2.4 million pieces of plastic – the estimated number of pounds of plastic that enter the world’s ocean’s every hour! Gyre is the first image in a mini-series that Jordan is creating about the Pacific Garbage Patch, and is named after the Pacific Gyre, a thousand miles wide ocean current which turns clockwise like a giant slow-motion whirlpool and concentrates tons of the world’s trash.

To connect Gyre even further to the subject matter, the pieces of plastic used were actually collected from the Pacific Ocean. Jordan’s sourcing strategy speaks to one of the reasons we love Eco Art so much – in addition to educating and creating awareness, it often gives artists an excuse to pick up the world’s trash! If you look closely, you’ll see toothbrushes, buttons, combs and other mundane items that have been sorted by color and immortalized in this gigantic collage.

“In addition to being an evocative seascape with lots of layers of metaphor, the painting is a clever yin-yang symbol, with several yin-yang relationships being suggested,” says Jordan. “It also happens to closely resemble a map of the Gyre, with the wave and its negative space creating the spiraling gyre shape, and Mt Fuji occupying the place of Hawaii on the map.” To put things into perspective, you can visualize the 2.4 million pieces of plastic that make up Jordan’s Gyre with the images here. Now try to imagine the hundred million tons of plastic that scientists estimate the real Gyre contains. Kinda makes you think twice about grabbing that plastic spoon, doesn’t it?

We’ve highlighted Chris Jordan’s amazing work before on Inhabitat, including his Running the Numbers exhibition which illustrated the sheer volume of American consumption. You can see more of Jordan’s stunning work below, and also online at >

+ Chris Jordan website

Chris Jordan at Greener Gadgets >

+ Chris Jordan


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  1. SnapDragon August 30, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    WOW! AMAZING! On so many different levels.

  2. SnapDragon August 30, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    WOW! I’m speechless. The whole thing is just amazing on so many different levels.

  3. njgranny August 27, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Can we get prints?

  4. Jeremy April 20, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Thoughtful and striking as always. I’d love to see one of his photos at full size one of these days, should he ever exhibit in the UK.

  5. kapauldo April 19, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    (linkback) Wow! or Meh? Chris Jordan’s Wave Illustrates Ocean Garbage [VOTE] –

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