“Do we have the courage to face the realities of our time?” – Chris Jordan
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, two thousand miles from the nearest continent, the skeletons of baby albatrosses reveal a sobering reality. Small mounds of feather and bone, their grey remains curl around unexpected piles of color: bottle caps, fish nets and cigaret lighters where their stomachs used to be.
These birds are the latest victims of a plastic plague borne to the shores of Midway Island by the currents of the Pacific Gyre. Caught in the circular currents of the North Pacific, generations of our garbage have accumulated into a soup of plastic covering thousands of square miles. Suspended below the surface, the waste is invisible from above, but is often mistaken for food by sea creatures of all sizes. In the tragic case of the albatross, it’s then fed from mother to hatchling, dooming the baby birds to a premature death.
We’ve often covered the Pacific Gyre garbage patch on The Thought Kitchen, it’s impact on the Oregon Coast, and other efforts to draw attention to the unfolding ecological disaster. But few of those efforts compare to MIDWAY, the latest project from photographer Chris Jordan, which documents the tragedy in unflinching detail.
Back when Nau was first starting out, one of our founders was fond of asking a simple question: “How do we ignore what we know to be true?” As an artist and photgrapher, Jordan has been asking much the same question through works that open people’s eyes to the true impacts of our consumption. Back in 2007, we covered his project “Running The Numbers,” which sought to give scale to statistics that catalog our waste—numbers like two million: the number of plastic beverage bottles used in the US every five minutes. Now he’s turned his lens to the Pacific Gyre, and with the help of Kickstarter Funds is filming a feature documentary on the unfolding horror resulting from that consumption.