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Chris Jordan (USA)

Message from the Gyre

I see the natural world as is its own multi-dimensional being, independent of any ownership or dominion we imagine we have over it. Life is a vast cathedral that surrounds us in every moment, a fractal envelope of harmonic resonance, a standing symphonic sound wave that birthed us, sustains us, and gives rise to our awareness. How does one express one’s relationship with this magnificent miracle? For me, thoughts can serve only as blurry signposts; words cannot contain the wonder of what I see and feel.

Our feelings serve as our connection with the world, and lately I have become particularly drawn to the power of grief. In my eight trips to Midway Island, witnessing the environmental tragedy that is taking place there, I have discovered that grief is not the same as sadness or despair; grief is the same as love. Grief is a felt experience of love for something we are losing or have lost. Grief honors our pain for the world and transmutes it through the filter of our heart. It helps remind us what we have forgotten, reuniting us with the center of our being where our compassion and wisdom reside.

There were times with the albatrosses when all I could do was bow down in astonishment, seeking a gesture to express the reverence that filled my soul. Operating the camera in moments like this is a challenge, but that is what photography is for me, at its core: a kind of prayer. Not just out to something, but also from an internal place: The way the filament of a light bulb appears to shine only outwardly, but its light comes from somewhere else. It is that from somewhere that I am most interested in.

Chris Jordan


Chris Jordan is a photographer, filmmaker, and conceptual artist based in Seattle. He received his art education from his father, Rocky Jordan, a photographer and photo-historian, and his mother, Susan Jordan, a watercolor painter. After a decade-long foray into the legal profession (“too scared to take the risk of living”), Chris became a photographer.

His photographs have been exhibited around the world in more than one hundred solo and group exhibitions. His awards include the 2011 Prix Pictet Commission Prize, London; the 2013 Human Security Award from the Center of Unconventional Security Affairs, University of California, Irvine; a 2011 Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship;and the 2010 Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography from the Sierra Club. In 2007 he participated in the Envisioning Change exhibition at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, where he was presented with a Green Leaf Award by the United Nations.

His work reaches a broad international audience through his exhibitions, books, website, interviews on radio and television, and speaking engagements and school visits all over the world.

He uses photography as a window for looking into the horror of human consumptive insanity and into the miraculous beauty of our world, aspiring but usually failing to stand midway on the spectrum of both.

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