Photographer Chris Jordan describes the photos in his series “Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption” as his “first foray into being an engaged artist.”

Cell phones #2, Atlanta, 2005

"The idea [behind this series] was to capture the scale of [our] mass consumption. It was the first time I stood in front of piles of the detritus of our mass consumption." "Cell phones #2, Atlanta, 2005"


Cell phone chargers, Atlanta, 2004

"Initially, I thought I was seeing the scale [but] in the end, I realized this was the tiny tip of the iceberg." "Cell phone chargers, Atlanta, 2004"


e-Bank, Tacoma, 2004

"It was interesting to see the limitations of this series and the photos. [Mass consumption is an] invisible phenomenon-- there's no one place I can go to capture it all." "e-Bank, Tacoma, 2004"


Crushed cars #2, Tacoma, 2004

"There's a hierarchy of activism.... What my work is about to feel these issues myself.... A large part of change is acknowledging feelings we have and connecting with these issues." "Crushed cars #2, Tacoma, 2004"


Oil Filters, Seattle, 2003

"[All this waste] is something that's sort of kept hidden." "Oil Filters, Seattle, 2003"


Spent bullet casings, 2005

"I almost felt like a spy. I felt like this was something people needed to see." "Spent bullet casings, 2005"


Circuit boards #2, New Orleans, 2005

"80% [of the photos in this series] were 'straight' photos. As I ran up against these limitations of photography...I started arranging the subject." "Circuit boards #2, New Orleans, 2005"


Circuit boards, Atlanta, 2004

"I also felt like I aged about five years during this series. Virtually all the photos...required that I trespass. I'd go ask [for permission to photograph these piles of waste] but I'd get all these vague excuses: Homeland Security, insurance regulations.... I think it was really a weird fear about photography and exposure [even though] I offered veto [power], showed them my previous work, and explained I didn't name individuals or companies. This was about [documenting] a nationwide, cultural phenomenon." Circuit boards, Atlanta, 2004"