Skip to content
Subscriber Only

First tears at TED...

In my curtain raiser for the conference, I jokingly wondered which of the speakers might choke up this year. It was a close run thing. Given that I watched events from the simulcast room, not the live auditorium, I couldn’t get all the nuances of the presentation. But artist Chris Jordan, who showed off some of his astonishing images representing what he describes as the “problem of unconscious collective behavior”, certainly seemed to have a moment on stage.

Jordan’s images are really something else, intended to inspire individuals to take responsibility for how they act — and be aware of how their actions might impact the world when repeated by 300 million other people. For instance, according to Jordan: 4 million plastic cups are used on flights every day… almost none are recycled. 40 million paper cups are used every day… 400,000 people die in the United States per year from smoking… Jordan’s images take these statistics and attempt to make them both manageable and meaningful. He clearly wasn’t wagging his finger or blaming or preaching, rather trying to combat what he described as “the anesthesia” prevalent in contemporary culture within the United States. “We’ve lost our outrage and our anger and our grief,” he said. And then, as I say, he had something of a moment and the talk ended rather abruptly. As I wind down for the end of the day myself, I find he’s stuck in my head. Check out his site if you get the chance.