Measuring success: work that challenges, changes, transforms ?

Reading a nice article : “ping pong” chat over on Conscientious

Key  questions /issues:

  • How to engage work that challenges, changes and transforms?
  • What is a  measure of success?
  • Can photography effect change – really?
  • Can a photograph serve as a model for “what to do”  instead of “what not to do?”
  • What evidence of change are we seeking?

Perhaps there is collection of projects that celebrates the actions taken to postively change – perhaps creating a model by which the viewer / audience might actually believe that a change in simple behaviors might lead to a bigger change in a positive and meaningful way…. wouldn’t it be great to see more work celebrated in a way that begins to address the questions above?

It reminded me about something I’d written previously, a question really – wondering if Jordan’s work is going only  “half way”  into the problem (written back  Jan 2008)


Crushed cars #2, Tacoma 2004 – Chris Jordan

The images are there – a lot of them – some flirt with an aesthetic that is almost “beautiful” albeit ultimately destructive.  Most of the photographs, that I’m aware of (please, I’d like to become better informed), seem bleak in outlook, or so about destructive imagery that I for one, can’t imagine myself ”transfering” seeing into doing,  taking an action about the situation…  It’s novel to be able to view a million, billion sheets of paper and realize that we use up that much resource.. by the minute… or something along those lines… but it leaves me feeling dismayed and disconnected – I feel like ”throwing up my hands” with a helpless feeling overwhelming me – I can’t not use paper after all… maybe more wisely, but… source

Specifically,  the notion of promoting  what work strikes you as meaningful (which lets be honest –  is after all what these blogs are all about right ?) that potentially challenges, changes, and transforms the viewer audience – in some yet undefined /  immeasurable way…  is what matters.

Work that produces a measurable outcome – a positive change – takes time to evolve to achieve… to be recognized as such.

Photograph: Chris Jordan – Midway; Message from the Gyre

This is one aspect of what I might call a “new success” – by this I mean success which is gauged not by the amount of money earned by the author – (this is still extremely important and necessary), but instead, a success measured by the amount of change and kind of change that work provokes

Perhaps if over time these sorts of projects get more into the “mainstream”  the effect will be one of challenging us the viewer into seriously making a change in the way we live our lives.

For example – why not take a small step in our own consuming lifestyles for example – resolve to never again buy bottled water…

If there were only a way to objectively measure the change effect on a larger scale – actions for example do speak louder than words (or pictures) for that matter…

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Manufactured Landscapes – Little Choices

There’s a number of ways that one can pursue to help raise consciousness of our relationship (humankind) with our environment. It can quite simply be on a personal level, thinking about the choices we make as enter into the peak of our consumer cycle…(Holiday Season). And so what better way to infuse your enthusiasm for making better choices in expressing your admiration for those special to you than to go see Manufactured Landscapes…

Showing today and tomorrow only… November 17, 18 – 2007 1:15 PM Hollywood Theater.

Hollywood Theater - Portland, Oregon

So, I’m going to walk down there – and I’m going to drag my boy there with me…maybe my wife and daughter too… Maybe I can trick them with “let’s go to the movies”… Oh, my boy will be expecting something entirely different I’m sure… He’s about to turn 7 years old soon… so something a little more “action figure” packed for sure would be an easy sell… but maybe, just maybe I can get us to think a little harder about the simple choices we can make and the potentially vast impacts those little choices add up to.

Here’s to trying… I know I’m excited to see Edward Burtynsky’s work put out to a larger audience – in a different context. “By not saying what they should see… perhaps it will allow them to see their world a little differently….” E.B. – So this will be a little family experiment.

Go see a view on “Manufactured Landscapes”… and form your own opinion. Is this what we want?